My mom left today on a trip to Italy. My brother Vincenzo, who is a career officer in the U.S. Army, is stationed in the vicinity of Vicenza, and is attached to the African Command. He shipped out to Liberia to oversee the construction of medical facilities to combat the Ebola outbreak. Mom is flying out to help my sister-in-law take care of the kids. Vin's deployment is somewhat open-ended, and he will have to undergo a three-week quarantine when he leaves the "hot zone". Mom is retired, and she has a neighbor she refers to as her "other son" who can take care of her house and yard while she is away, so her European trip is open-ended, like Vin's deployment.
My mom was understandably concerned when she learned that Vin was deploying to Liberia. In a long conversation with her, I noted that the hype and fear-mongering about Ebola was overblown. Vin would be engaged in logistical support- he won't be acting as medical staff, so his risk of exposure to the virus is pretty low. We then had a lament about the failure to fund and support the State Department, so a lot of the tasks that should be performed by our diplomatic and developmental professionals now fall on our military... if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.
I'm going to go off on a brief tangent now... given the history of Liberia as a refuge for freed African-American slaves, the failure of the U.S. government to lend support to this nation is unconscionable. We should have backed the Liberian people, recognizing their cultural connection to the United States, and helping them to establish a healthy democratic society in order to help in the development of the African continent. I would hazard a guess that a combination of racism and a desire to exploit the peoples of Africa economically was responsible for the neglect of the fledgling nation that was founded by Americans. It's yet another case of us failing to live up to our lofty stated ideals. Pity we were never as good as we claimed to be.
At any rate, mom's on the move, Vin's in the field against an enemy that all humans can agree must be vanquished. Good voyage to mom, good health and good fortune to Vin and his family.