At first glance, TEDxPentagon seemed to be just another addition to the military’s land of acronyms and abbreviations. At least that’s what I thought when I was invited to attend.  After further research, I found that TED-Technology, Entertainment, Design-was so much more. 

This platform for information sharing allowed the audience to share in “ideas worth spreading.”  The Department of Defense-led TED talk included 11 speakers from across all services, and even a spouse that knows the true meaning of Army Strong.  The DoD TED conference’s goal was to create high impact, lasting speeches to increase access to DoD principals and create compelling stories across the department.

Ms. Sarah Hertig, a Family Readiness Group Leader and spouse of a 3rd Infantry Division Soldier, shared her story through a letter she wrote to her teenage daughter about marrying an Army Soldiers. Through her experiences of love, heartache and the Army Family, it is apparent that Hertig loves her family, her country and the U.S. Army. Things may not always be easy, but as Hertig explains, the best things in life never are.

Col. Geoffrey Ling, M.D., Ph.D., chairman, Neurology Department, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences also spoke at the conference.  Col. Ling is one of the Army’s top surgeons, and has been a intricate part of the process to rebuild the human hand for amputees.  I was fascinated as Col. Ling described how we have come from hooks to actual working hands that are controlled by the patient’s brain; just like their real hand!

Another great presentation  was Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commanding general, U.S. Army Accessions Command. Gen. Freakley came at the audience in full force, showing his passion and belief that “Technology without People is Just (very cool) Stuff.”

Ending the conference was Gen. “Kip” Ward, commander, U.S. Africa Command.  I was inspired by his discussion of the “footprints” that we all leave or hope to leave.  The general described leaving your legacy and how important it is to lead by example.  These are both principles I’ve heard many times, but Gen. Ward’s descriptive dialogue was so good he didn’t even need note cards, slides or any visual aids to get the point across.  Even as the eleventh speaker in a long line of great presenters, he received a standing ovation.  What a great way to end the day!

TEDxPentagon was held Friday at the Navy Memorial Burke Theater in Washington D.C.  The Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs hosted this event featuring 11 speakers from across the DoD.

Erika Wonn, Public Affairs Specialist, Community Relations Division