Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Honor Due A Hero

I'm sharing this with permission to honor the heart and sacrifice of a fallen American hero. I want to say thank you to him, to his family, and to the U.S. Government for the service to the people of Afghanistan.

As a writer, I feel that our gifts come with strings attached as this man's giftings came with strings attached. The catch? That we use our talents, convictions, and hearts to serve others. Tom is a heroic example of a man who lived his convictions and honored his calling.

Are you honoring the gifts you have been called to use to make a difference in the world and in the lives God has placed in your path?

May God comfort and bless those who feel so deeply the loss of this generous soul. He gave everything to serve "the least of these."

PS Please feel free to offer up any thoughts.


Dear USDA Family,

It is with much sadness that I write to inform you of the loss of a USDA colleague. Steven Thomas (Tom) Stefani was a Forest Service employee on voluntary assignment with the Foreign Agriculture Service in Afghanistan. He was serving on a Provincial Reconstruction Team as an agricultural advisor when he lost his life yesterday in an explosion that impacted his convoy near Ghazni.

I'd like to share with you some information about Tom's accomplishments and dedication. In Afghanistan, Tom was developing and implementing projects to help the people of the Ghazni Province. He worked directly with Ghazni's Director of Agriculture to create a reconstruction plan that included a poultry rearing facility and other agricultural advancements. Last month, Tom proudly reported that construction had begun on a cold storage facility for farmers to store their commodities, which would enable them to preserve and sell the products. He had also worked on a project to improve grape production and management practices. Tom's contributions will have a real and lasting impact on the people and agricultural economy of Afghanistan.

For USDA, Tom was a respected Rangeland Management Specialist on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada. As a rangeland management specialist he worked with permit applicants to balance livestock needs with those of rangelands. He developed grazing strategies to help achieve this balance. Tom was a problem-solver and a tremendous ambassador for the
department and the U.S. government.

The fact that Tom recently requested an extension of his service time in Afghanistan speaks to his courage and commitment to protecting our freedom and creating a better life for a deserving people.

I can assure you that we are doing everything we can to provide support to Tom's parents and brothers. I ask you to join me in keeping Tom and his family in your thoughts and prayers, just as we do all of the brave men and women who are making sacrifices to protect our freedom, including all USDA volunteer agricultural advisors serving overseas. They deserve our deepest gratitude.

-Acting Secretary Chuck Conner


  1. Ang,
    Thanks for sharing this story. Brave men and women fight for us and the good of the world everyday. We can't forget them in our prayers.
    Thank you.

  2. What a touching tribute to a generous man. Thanks for sharing, Angie.


  3. Thanks for sharing, Angie. Tom's family will be in our prayers for this brave and giving man.