Paul M. Kendel’s (SSG Ret.) first experience with the current “War on Terror” began with a deployment to Saudi Arabia with the California National Guard following 9/11. In 2005, the military deployed him to Iraq. He had been in Baghdad only a short time before he felt besieged with doubts regarding the U.S. presence in that region and saw little progress in winning the hearts and minds’ of the Iraqi people as he witnessed the hardships the American military placed on their way of life.
Disillusioned with the aggression overwhelming some of the members of his military unit and inspired by Sakyong Mipham’s book Turning the Mind Into an Ally, he sent an email to Shambhala International, who connected him with Margot Neuman of the Ratna Peace Initiative (formerly Ratna Prison Initiative.) They corresponded throughout his deployment, and upon his return home, he deepened his involvement in the Shambhala Community through programs with the Sakyong Mipham, President Richard Reoch and Pema Chödrön.
Following his return from combat in the spring of 2006, SSG Kendel spent the next three years dealing with the end of his marriage, the loss of his mother from cancer, and the friends who died in Iraq. During this period, he delved deeply into the Shambhala Buddhist teachings and the practice of meditation.
January 2009, found SSG. Kendel training for a deployment to Afghanistan. During that training, he aggravated a previous injury and did not deploy with his men. He spent the next ten months on active duty recovering from his injuries and spending quality time with his two young sons. Released from active duty in March 2010, he is currently teaching world history and special education at Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville, Florida. SSG. Kendel holds an M.A. in both History and Anthropology. He is actively working on a second book.