Member Spotlight: Major General (Ret.) William Enyart
7-year Mission: Readiness member details his work with News Nation, interests, and hobbies in a new guest blog
This Veterans Day, Mission: Readiness Illinois staff would like to thank our incredible members for their dedication to national security - both as members of the armed forces during active military years, and as members of this organization focused on the youth of our country. Your efforts and time spent are admirable and invaluable.
In gratitude, we are honored to highlight Mission: Readiness Illinois member Major General William Enyart, U. S. Army (Ret.), who recently took on the role of Military Affairs and Foreign Policy Guest Commentator for News Nation. General Enyart generously took the time to detail his ongoing projects and new work with News Nation:
The kind folks at Mission: Readiness asked me to write a blog post about what I do when I’m not advocating for a stronger America by improving the health and education outcomes of our youth so they can serve in our military.
That advocacy is necessary, since only 23 percent of our nation’s youth can qualify for military service. The remaining 77 percent are ineligible for service due to a combination of factors, including: physical fitness and obesity issues, having a criminal background, educational deficits, and drug abuse.
With that as background, let me tell you what else I’ve been doing. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I’ve spent time as a guest commentator on News Nation, a cable news network, formerly known as WGN America. This is in addition to my work as a podcaster with Reflections from the River, which is carried on all major podcast providers, including Apple, Spotify, Pandora and others. It can also be found on my website at www.billenyart.com.
The podcast episodes generally run for 5 to 10 minutes for quick, easy listening. They feature stories ranging from my military service, bicycle riding, and growing up in Illinois corn country to thoughts on current issues. I began podcasting at the urging of my fellow memoirs class students at Washington University, St. Louis, Lifelong Learning Program. They found my stories of military service compelling, as I am the only veteran in the group of a dozen or so writers with very distinguished careers, including two judges, an architecture professor, a psychologist, and others. There are more doctoral degrees in that small classroom than in a college faculty lounge.
One of those well-educated students is a PhD-holding career counselor. She formerly had a St. Louis TV career as “The Job Doctor.” Some of the stories I shared with her included accounts of my military service, including service on a NATO war games mission in Ukraine. When Russia invaded Ukraine, she called a producer at a St. Louis television station, associated with a major network, and said, “Hey, you’ve got a local guy who is a retired general with service in Ukraine. Why don’t you call him and get his take on this war?”
They did. I did an hour-long interview via Zoom from the comfort of our weekend place overlooking the Mississippi River an hour or so south of St. Louis.
My law school alma mater, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, posted a link to the story on its webpage. A few days later, a producer for News Nation, who is an SIU alum, saw the story and asked if I’d be willing to do a guest shot on their news programming. I agreed. As my career-counseling fellow writer would say, it’s all about networking, networking, networking.
Six months later, here I am doing three-to-six appearances a week on a nationwide cable news network talking about current military and foreign policy events ranging from Ukraine to China, North Korea and Taiwan. I’ve even done a segment on the shortfall in military recruiting, where I got to talk about the issues about which we Mission: Readiness retired generals and admirals advocate. I give most of the interviews from my home office, but had the pleasure of shooting one in front of the military aircraft on display outside Scott Air Force Base, Belleville, Illinois. I’ve even done some via Zoom connections in motel rooms, as I was riding long-distance bicycle tours.
While I enjoy doing the programs, I’ve found that it has cut into my bicycle-riding time, but I refuse to let it cut into watching my grandson play soccer on his select club and school soccer team. Watching my grandson compete reminds me of the most important things in life, and in my work. My hope is that, by sharing my voice via interviews and podcasts, those efforts will also raise the profile of the critical issues that Mission: Readiness works on, which will help our nation’s children and provide all of us with the strong country we’ll need in the decades to come.