Gen. Honoré offers advice on building a strong family unit

LAFAYETTE — How can U.S. military core values be used by parents to build stronger families?

That’s what retired Army Lt. General Russel Honoré explained in his keynote address to some 600 members of the Knights of Columbus gathered for their annual statewide convention in the Cajundome Convention Center Saturday night.

“A family is a team, and teams need leaders. Families need leading because kids need teaching,” he said. “And if you don’t lead your family, someone else will.”

Every parent knows you can’t run a household as you would an army camp, he pointed out. But some of the lessons taught by the U.S. military — particularly the Warrior Ethos — can be applied in building strong, healthy families.

“The Warrior Ethos is a guiding principle in the military, and it can be applied successfully in building a cohesive, mutually trusting family,” he said.

Honoré explained how the four major premises of the Warrior Ethos translate for use in building the family unit:

—“Placing the mission first means my family is more important to me than anything else.

—“Never accepting defeat means I won’t give up trying. You may not like what I’m doing here, but I will not stop trying.

—“Never quitting means I’ll be beside you no matter how long it takes you to become the person you’re meant to be.

—“Never leaving a fallen comrade means regardless of what you do, I will always love you. I will come to get you.”

Honoré is well known as the commander of Task Force Katrina, having led the U.S. military’s search-and-rescue effort in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He is credited with restoring law and order in New Orleans following the destructive storm.

His talk, titled “Save Your Best Leadership For When You Get Home,” was based on a chapter in his new book, Leadership in the New Normal.

He defined leadership as “the art of influencing people to willingly follow you to accomplish a task or a mission.”

“A family has a mission, too: to work as a team,” he said. “Families have a lot to accomplish, and the New Normal makes it harder to do. Job competition is fiercer, none of us are as financially secure as we used to be, communities are fractured, and our value system is overly influenced by greed, glamour and entitlement.

“In the midst of all this, families have to educate and support their young; create a healthy, stable, nurturing environment; and produce resilient, capable adults who can become good citizens and make successful lives of their own.”

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