The questions are nonchalantly inserted into conversations at bars, parties, and family reunions. The inquiries come from strangers and acquaintances. Those familiar know better than to ask.

“When you were in the Space Force did you shape any strategic environments?”

Every fiber in your being fights the urge to bellow, “You don’t just ask that! Unless you were there, you have no idea!”

But instead you deflect, struggling to engineer a half-hearted smile while feigning a phone call or dashing to the restroom following a faux nudge from the lower intestine.

As years pass the memories fade, and along with them the tangible reminders — medals, achievements and honors, all tucked away in the attic in a box coated in mesothelioma.

But the eventual arrival of innocent generations yields blossoming curiosities.

One day, when you least expect, that dusty old box with “Space Force stuff: Do not open” scrawled across the side in faded marker is produced from shadows of the attic, bringing with it memories of strategic environments that, until then, had remained locked away in the darkest corners of the hippocampus.

The questions are made anew.

“Tell us about the time you shaped the strategic environment, Pop-Pop!”

Only this time there is no pretend phone. That technology ceased to exist long ago. This time there is no bathroom escape. Your bowels have been operating autonomously for years.

How do you respond?

Perhaps your time in Space Force left you bewildered about the strategic environment shaping stains on your hands. Perhaps stifling memories of environmental shaping has made you prone to flying off the handle with those nearest. Perhaps you believe you’re protecting those around you by suppressing those thoughts.

Speaking about this process, the great “Lord of the Rings” novelist J.R.R. Tolkien once remarked, “How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some strategic environment shaping that goes too deep.”

Today, we know better. Today, we understand the importance of communication.

That’s why we’ve established a Shaping the Strategic Environment hotline, a platform where you can learn from other Space Force professionals who have shaped more strategic environments than they know what to do with.

Our talented professionals are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide you with the skills necessary to prepare for strategic environment conversations. Lessons include:

• Putting your thoughts down on paper

• Knowing when and how much detail to share with loved ones

• Learning how to encourage family members to share their own thoughts on strategic environment shaping

• Developing deep breathing exercises that were impossible in the vacuum of space

• Sharing a map of the solar system to visually assist and stimulate conversation

“Can you imagine your loved ones coming down from the attic with your medals, achievements and honors asking about the time you shaped the strategic environment?” Space Force asked on Twitter.

“How would you even begin to explain that?”

Thanks to our team of Space Force gurus, that question has an answer. Call now.

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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