"Defense of Country, Defense of Life"

On Valentine's Day in 2002, Mark Kowalewski began his Army experience, feeling compelled to place his pursuit of a college degree on hold in order to defend his country. He served in the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command for 11 years and was stationed in numerous locations around the world. He deployed twice in support of Central Command and was tasked with leading platoon-sized elements on several high threat nighttime operations.

While he had the opportunity to live in many enjoyable locations, it was his time spent in Iraq that was the most rewarding. It provided him with an opportunity to reflect on life and death, the importance of courage and living an overall virtuous life, and it greatly reinforced his appreciation for what it means to be an American. This prepared him for what he was to experience during his last year in the Army.

While he had the opportunity to live in many enjoyable locations, it was his time spent in Iraq that was the most rewarding. It provided him with an opportunity to reflect on life and death, the importance of courage and living an overall virtuous life, and it greatly reinforced his appreciation for what it means to be an American. This prepared him for what he was to experience during his last year in the Army.

In early December of 2011, following the Commander in Chief's controversial decision to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell," Mark was in a mandatory training session that was morally objectionable. The training stated "sexual orientation" was a diversity issue to be placed alongside race and gender implying if you disagree with the homosexual act, you are the equivalent of a racist or a sexist.

Acknowledging this as an attack on religious freedom, Mark spent the following year respectfully refusing to attend mandatory "diversity" training and consistently writing Congress. He risked legal action and possible "other than honorable discharge."

"I decided to look beyond the shallow waters in which the media holds the discussion of homosexuality," Mark said, "and thoroughly research, not only the 'Repeal,' but the history of the homosexual movement in the United States." Mark submitted what he found in a 20-page letter on "Subordination Defined" to his superiors.

"The New Testament demands nothing less than love and respect for all people," the letter explains. "However, it likewise makes it clear that true love is not to ignore or endorse immoral or destructive behavior."

You can read more at "My Rejection of the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'."

Once his days as a soldier came to a close, Mark became much more actively involved  defending traditional social teaching. He now works with the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) where he has been appointed director of their  International Youth Coalition (IYc).

The IYc defends life and family at the United Nations with young professionals from around the globe contributing to its success.

Earlier this year Mark led a team of college students to a Youth Forum at the UN. The forum intended to collect opinions from young people to present to UN diplomats.

They quickly discovered the participants "held radicalized views and a deeply pro-abortion and anti-religious bias - not at all representative of youth worldwide," Mark reported.

So the team spoke up at every opportunity, defending the unborn and the role of religious groups in caring for the world's most vulnerable and impoverished citizens.

Venturing into the chasm of the UN can be intimidating. Not for them. Armed with sharp intellects and buoyed by the Holy Spirit, they entered each conversation with the boldness that comes from knowing the truth needs to be told - and heard.

And read. Mark focuses now on expanding IYc's message to the UN and beyond. He runs the IYc website with lively blogs from members around the world, challenging youth to live out their faith by defending the defenseless.

His goal? As he put it, "To shine the light of truth so the world's youth can be led on the path of dignity and respect, towards a culture of life and true happiness."

That's a path this soldier knows. 

Join this courageous warrior at the International ProLife Youth Conference!