The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War and is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee's invasion of the North.
After his success at Chancellorsville in Virginia in May 1863, Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North—the Gettysburg Campaign. With his army in high spirits, Lee intended to shift the focus of the summer campaign from war-ravaged northern Virginia and hoped to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war by penetrating as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or even Philadelphia. Prodded by President Abraham Lincoln, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker moved his army in pursuit, but was relieved just three days before the battle and replaced by Meade.
Elements of the two armies initially collided at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee urgently concentrated his forces there, his objective being to engage the Union army and destroy it. Low ridges to the northwest of town were defended initially by a Union cavalry division under Brig. Gen. John Buford, and soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry. However, two large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, collapsing the hastily developed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the streets of town to the hills just to the south.
On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. In the late afternoon of July 2, Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union right, demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill. All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines.
On the third day of battle, July 3, fighting resumed on Culp's Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett's Charge. The charge was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire, at great losses to the Confederate army. Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle. That November, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.
The concept of staff rides was first developed by Count Helmuth von Moltke, the 19th century Prussian general and military theorist who once wrote “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” The Count believed that only the opening stages of a campaign could be effectively planned: all other decisions happened according to the needs of the moment. Von Moltke, together with a hand-picked group of young staff officers, would visit sites where he felt conflict was likely to happen with future European enemies. He and his students could thus envision the exigencies of the battle on what military historian William Robertson calls the “three dimension chess board of terrain.”
The staff ride is no longer for military personnel alone. ALFI has adapted the practice for executive leadership development training, for history and military enthusiasts and for anyone with an interest in learning the lessons of historic battles and their impact on our present and future. The Battlefield Staff Ride draws on the popularity of experiential learning while exploiting the intensity of combat to dramatize decision-making under the most extreme circumstances.
The battlefields are alive today in that it teaches lessons to us all. Technology, demographics and politics may influence how wars are fought to some degree, but all wars share the same characteristics that Soldiers and civilians alike must understand if they are to make informed judgments about the nature and character of today’s and tomorrow’s conflicts. The battlefield also teaches you timeless lessons about the human dimensions of conflict. War is the most complex of all human endeavors and the fear of violent death and the burden that comes with leading men to their death heightens and illuminates how leaders and led relate to each other in time of crises.
ALFI’s Staff Rides are more than just a battlefield tour. The battlefield is a metaphor for the world of today and tomorrow, whether the context is military, corporate, cultural or personal.
ALFI currently offers three Staff Rides: Antietam, Gettysburg, and Little Big Horn. Watch our site or register with ALFI for announcements of upcoming Staff Rides, or if you are interested in booking a customized Staff Ride for your small group (either at one of these three sites or one of your choosing), please contact Greg at
ALFI is committed to the goal of developing housing communities for service-disabled and other veterans that meet the highest “green” construction and energy-conservation standards and that are designed to meet the unique needs of veterans.
ALFI’s vision is to create a model veterans’ community that can be replicated across the country that includes single-family homes (including handicap-accessible homes); transitional housing; community and recreational facilities/areas; and medical/rehab/therapy facilities. Our goal is to develop a pilot community – currently called The Hondo Project – in the Texas Hill Country in the Medina County/Bandera County area west of San Antonio. The Hill Country area that we have targeted provides an ideal environment, with its unsurpassed natural beauty, nearby recreational areas, and proximity to the city of San Antonio and its world-class veterans’ medical community.
To that end, ALFI has embarked on the initial planning stages of The Hondo Project. We have identified possible properties; we have begun to identify and recruit a team of developers, builders, and other groups and individuals to help us launch and implement the project; we have begun discussions with municipal and county authorities to elicit their support for this undertaking; and we are actively seeking funding.
A long-term goal of this project is to package the resulting development plans and all of ALFI’s lessons learned as prototypes that other non-profit organizations can use, elsewhere in Texas and around the nation, to provide service-disabled veterans with housing communities that are designed to meet their unique needs.
If you are interested in supporting The Hondo Project, you can contact ALFI or make a donation. Watch for project updates here and sign up for the ALFI newsletter.
America at war has been placing sustained demands, pressures and challenges on its all-volunteer force, their families and communities. Multiple deployments, combat injuries, and the challenges of reintegration are having far-reaching effects on not only the troops and their families but also upon America’s communities.
Veterans have answered their call to duty. Yet today, more than 13 percent of our nation’s homeless sheltered population consists of Veterans. One out of every six men and women in our nation’s shelters has worn our country’s uniform. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed Veterans, many homeless, suffering the physical and emotional difficulties associated with multiple deployments, many of whom have PTSD and are at risk for suicide, are not receiving the help and treatment that they need. Nearly a half-million Veterans pay more than half of their incomes for rent, and more than half of them have incomes below the federal poverty level.
ALFI intends to assist Veterans to obtain the assistance they need to successfully transition to productive lives as civilians. ALFI’s board, staff, members and sponsors are committed to ensuring that Veterans and their families do not have to suffer from unemployment, health and mental health issues, serious shelter and housing finance problems, etc. ALFI is committed to effectively reaching out to all Veterans who need help.
ALFI will ensure that the benefits and services provided by numerous federal and state initiatives to support employment of Veterans, house service-disabled and other Veterans, provide healthcare, education and skill training, and other support reach Veterans in manner that strengthens our military families. We call this strategy, its goals and programs VetsWIN.
ALFI’s strategy is to obtain public and private resources and also to create or build on existing local, regional and create networks of businesses, educational institutions, public and non-profit organizations that share common goals and are willing to collaborate in order to accelerate provision of outreach housing, jobs and training, education, health and mental health, and other assistance and services to Veterans and their families.
ALFI’s VetsWIN will seek to accomplish the following objectives:
America’s Soldiers, Marines and Special Operations forces have carried the greatest burden in all of our contemporary wars. Since World War II, land forces have comprised only 4% of the entire Armed Forces, but have suffered 84% of all military fatalities.
Yet in spite of this horrific down payment in blood, this nation still fails to provide our ground forces with the support these brave men and women require to allow them to win our wars at the lowest cost in human life.
We are dedicated to the proposition that America’s historic neglect of our ground forces must not be allowed to persist.
ALFI is a nonprofit organization incorporated in the State of Texas and exempt under section 501(c)3 of the IRS Code.
ALFI is launching operations in 2012, and financial data will be available for review beginning in mid-2013.
Jack H. Pryor is a combat infantry officer with 40 years of experience in the US military, education and senior management positions in industry and international business. Prior to founding ALFI, he was the co-founder and principal of Colgen LP, a defense and security consulting firm, the president of a major international energy firm’s Latin American subsidiary, and a senior executive in several US commercial firms. He has provided consulting to senior government officials in four Latin American nations and, while still on active duty in the US Army, he served as the Director of Counter-Narcotics for US Southern Command.
During his distinguished military career, Mr. Pryor established himself as one of the US Army’s preeminent trainers and educators. He participated in the establishment of the US Combat Training Centers for heavy maneuver, light infantry and SOF units. He was one of the principal authors of the Battalion Training Management System (BTMS), and he developed and wrote the Light Infantry Training Strategy. Following Battalion Command, he served as the Operations Officer and as the Senior OC for Light Forces at the National Training Center. Following the invasion of Panama, Mr. Pryor was invited to advise the President of Panama and his executive leadership on that nation’s national reconstruction strategy and its implementation. He effectively bridged communications between the Government of Panama and the US diplomatic and military missions. Mr. Pryor has devoted a significant part of his military career to educational reform within the US Army. During his tenure as President of the US Army Management Engineering College (1991-1994), he served on the US Presidential Blue Ribbon Panel for Educational Reform.
While at the College, Mr. Pryor had many notable accomplishments that included being named to the first National Re-Invention Lab under the Clinton Re-Invent Government program. Under his leadership, the College became the first fee-for-service organization in the federal government, and the first to establish a Federal Sector Marketing Office. He developed relationships throughout the US and Europe, and opened regional campus facilities to lower costs for 50,000 students. During his tenure, the College became the number one distance learning institution in the United States. Mr. Pryor successfully privatized the College and created a self-sustaining business model that freed the College from federal support. He pioneered new organizational structures that had never been seen in higher education. The College was the Executive Agency for the Federal Sector Total Quality Management (TQM) and trained President Clinton and his Cabinet in TQM and Sixth Sigma. Mr. Pryor pioneered 360-degree performance assessment in the federal sector and this assessment program was implemented successfully at the College in 1992. While at the College, Mr. Pryor and his staff pioneered 52 revolutionary government best business practices that have since have all been adopted by some part of the Federal government.
Mr. Pryor’s experience in education has spanned several decades. He is a graduate of the Navy War College and holds three Master’s degrees, including National Defense & Strategic Studies, Educational Administration and Secondary Education. He has attended Senior Executive Management Seminars at Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, Tufts, Stanford and Duke Universities. Jack’s post-graduate studies are in Organizational Design and Behavior. In the civilian sector, Mr. Pryor has taught in the Psychology Department at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and served as UNLV’s baseball coach. Mr. Pryor is one of the pioneers in sports science (Sensory Integration and Cognition) and has been working in this area for over 30 years. He has utilized the sports world of elite athletes and teams as his laboratory for analyzing, testing and determining the guidelines of high performing athletes and teams. Mr. Pryor’s partial list of awards and decorations include: Silver Star, Purple Heart (with 3 oak leaf clusters), Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star (with/v 2 oak leaf clusters), Meritorious Service Medal (with 4 oak leaf clusters), Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal (with/v 4 oak leaf clusters), Good Conduct Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Master Parachutist Badge, and UNLV Athletic Hall of Fame.
In the past 25 years, Dr. Jin primarily has been engaged in teaching and research at the University of California, Irvine. Discoveries in Dr. Jin’s research into the neuro-physical process in normal and abnormal cognition has opened new avenues for treatment of mental disorders using various types of sensory stimulations and neural imaging recording. This groundbreaking research and development of new types of treatments, including, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), have resulted in successful treatment of patients with neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, major depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and autism. The results have been published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at academic conferences. In addition to his academic work and research at UCI, Dr. Jin cofounded two companies, NeoSync, Inc and Brain Treatment Center (BTC). Neosync manufactures portable TMS instruments. BTC is a psychiatric clinic using EEG and TMS to assist clinical diagnosis and treatment for autistic spectral disorder (ASD) and other mental disorders.
Military Career: James Wadell “Jess” Johnson is a US Army retired multi-decorated Master Sargent with 25 years service. Including: Combat Med., Airborn and Special Forces. Served with the 501st and the 101st Airborn in PhuBai, Vietnam. Was assigned to the JFK Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg, NC as a “Weapons Specialist. He is combat decorated with: a Bronz Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal, Army Accommodation Medal, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and a Special Forces Tab. In 1999 Jess retired from active duty with rank of “Master Sargent” - The highest rank attainable for an enlisted soldier in the US Army.
Private Sector: Leveraging his vast international network of command military and geo-political leaders, Jess launched a private consultancy specializing in Military and Economic advisory. Jess’ client base extends from Asia, to The Middle East up to Europe, and down to multiple African and Sub-Saharan nations. Ret. MSGT Johnson is a regular special guest as a Military Adviser to: FOX News and can be heard on Charlie Jones “Overnight” KRLD CBS Radio 0180 AM where he offers unique and experienced commentary on past and current US and other military occupations from around the Globe
VET to VET: Veteran Advocacy In Christmas of1994 Jess and Wife, Peggy Johnson visited and distributed hamburgers and coffee thermoses to patients at the Dallas VA Hospital. Their generosity was warmly received but, the Johnsons soon discovered that the need at the VA far exceeded their current ability to provide gifts for all the hundreds of VA patients.
They returned the next day with thermoses for the others. It was then decided to create what is now “VET to VET” a registered non-profit organization. From it’s inception in Dallas, Vet to Vet has now expanded their operation to include the Bonham, Waco, and Temple VA hospitals.
Vet to Vet now provides 4,000 gifts to 1,600 patients each Christmas, as well as hosting monthly bingo games and barbecues throughout the year.
Vet to Vet hosts fundraisers to support Texas VA hospitals and would like to open a chapter in all 162 VA hospitals across the country. Additionally, the organization is building homes on land near VA hospitals that will accommodate veterans and their families free of charge during their rehabilitation.
Jess is a Graduate with a Bachelor’s of Arts from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. ￼￼￼￼￼
Demographics of homeless veterans "The Forgotten Americans-Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve" – released Dec. 8, 1999, by the U.S. Interagency Council on the Homeless (USICH) – is the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC), which was completed in 1996 and updated three years later. You can download the NSHAPC reports at www.huduser.org.
Veteran-specific highlights from the USICH report include:23% of the homeless population are veterans 33% of the male homeless population are veterans 47% served Vietnam-era 17% served post-Vietnam 15% served pre-Vietnam 67% served three or more years 33% were stationed in war zone 25% have used VA homeless services 85% completed high school/GED, compared to 56% of non-veterans 89% received an honorable discharge 79% reside in central cities 16% reside in suburban areas 5% reside in rural areas 76% experience alcohol, drug or mental health problems 46% are white males, compared to 34% of non-veterans 46% are age 45 or older, compared to 20% non-veterans
Service needs cited include:45% need help finding a job37% need help finding housing
How many homeless veterans are there?Accurate numbers community-by-community are not available. Some communities do annual counts; others do an estimate based on a variety of factors. Contact the closest VA medical center's homeless coordinator, the office of your mayor, or another presiding official to get local information. A regional breakdown of numbers of homeless veterans, using data from VA's 2009 CHALENG (Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups) report – which contains the most widely cited estimate of the number of homeless veterans – can be