The next time you are tempted to quit…

I had to share this video, which I understand has been “viral”.

Consider this demonstration of determination and desire the next time you are challenged with a task and want to quit.

Via WaPo:

Mason said [Army Capt. Sarah Cudd] with Army Public Health Command at Fort Knox, Ky. The march was the last event required to earn the Army’s Expert Field Medical Badge, a decoration awarded to those who pass a rigorous battery of tests for medical professionals in the Army. Less than 25 percent of those who attempt the required course typically pass.

The Public Health Command shared the video May 1, and confirmed Cudd earned the badge. Forty-five other soldiers did the same day — but 80 percent of those who attempted the course fell short.


In the closing moments of a grueling 12-mile road march, Army Capt. Sarah Cudd fell to her knees. She was exhausted, bowed over by the heavy pack on her back and seemingly unable to continue.

The soldier pressed on, however. Using her rifle to prop herself up, she stumbled to her feet and made it another nine steps before falling again. Other soldiers gathered around her, cheering her on. She rose again, and gritted it out another 50 feet or so until she made it across the finish line while her colleagues erupted in excitement.


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  1. dholwell says:

    As a retired Infantry officer, I can only shake my head. Why are we cheering such marginal attainment of a standard? Does this video inspire confidence in the capabilities of women soldiers, or strike fear in the hearts of our nation’s enemies? I think not. This smacks of grandstanding at the finish line to me, and underscores the folly of an agenda to push women into combat positions.

  2. chantgirl says:

    I think most mothers can really appreciate the exhaustion this woman exhibits. For some, it may be the exhaustion that accompanies several hours of pushing after an extended labor. For some, it may be sleep deprivation for the first several months of a child’s life. I know a mother who was so exhausted during her newborn’s failure to thrive sickness that she had nightmares about the house burning down and being too tired to get up to get the children out. For myself, there was a two month period that I can barely remember when one of my newborns was unable to nurse. My body somehow went through the motions even though I was practically walking around asleep! At different times in my life, I have identified with different portions of Christ’s Passion, but I think that motherhood has most keenly connected me to the sheer exhaustion that Christ must have felt carrying the cross after having no sleep, extreme blood loss, and the weight of a broken heart. With our eyes focused on the finish line, the encouragement of others, the grace of God, and a tenacious will to overcome our weak physical selves, victory is possible. Congrats to Capt. Sarah Cudd!

  3. seanc says:

    dholwell said:

    As a retired Infantry officer, I can only shake my head. Why are we cheering such marginal attainment of a standard? Does this video inspire confidence in the capabilities of women soldiers, or strike fear in the hearts of our nation’s enemies? I think not. This smacks of grandstanding at the finish line to me, and underscores the folly of an agenda to push women into combat positions.

    You’re probably in a much better position to judge than I am, but let me ask you this: I’ve seen a number of TV shows, read a number of books/blogs, etc. that all say that the goal of difficult military physical training like the Army’s Expert Field Medical Badge is partly to root out those who don’t have the mental ability to just keep going.

    What I see when I watch the video is someone who is absolutely determined to get the job done, even though she (could easily be “he”) is beyond exhausted.

    Ideally, she (or he, if it was a man) would of course finish the march without falling down and being so exhausted (if she was in the field, she may need to rest before she could do her job and tend to someone who is injured, which could cost lives). However, I think that with some cardio and weights and the right diet, she could very well improve her physical stamina and endurance and overall capabilities; it’s the mental aspect that is difficult to learn or teach someone.

    So, I think she has the important part down, and she has demonstrated that she is capable of at least the bare minimum of a notoriously difficult course… There’s no telling how well she did in Boot Camp, so she could very well have kicked *** and taken names there.

    Again, though, given your experience as an Infantry officer, I would think you would have a better idea. Perhaps, though, you could comment on my reply?

  4. roma247 says:

    Look, I may get shouted down for my opinion here, but lest you think me a chauvinist, know right up front that I’m a woman.

    I won’t pass judgement on this woman’s determination, or whether or not just barely finishing is “good enough.” She worked her hardest and earned this medal. Good for her.

    But like the priesthood (though for different reasons) I’m sorry, but the military quite simply is not the right place for a woman. Not because she’s not good enough, or strong enough, or tough enough for battle.

    The only way women in the military can possibly make sense would be if there were an entirely separate, fully segregated set of women’s corps that were…did I say it already?…kept entirely separate from the men’s corps AT ALL TIMES.

    Heck, colleges are bad enough. But a co-ed military? Just asking for all kinds of problems.

  5. APX says:

    I’m just curious, where are all the men?? [Since she was really hurting, I’m guessing that the men are already finished. But that’s not really the point.]

  6. Rachel Pineda says:

    @ Fr. Z, You beat me to the punch.

    I was going to say..I think some of y’all missed the point!

    @ Chantgirl, my dear we have all been at that point of exhaustion. I do hope the baby with failure to thrive is well and thriving by now. Lord have Mercy. My kids and I will remember all exhausted mothers in our prayers.

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Uuuuusually, a doctor will not ever have to march 12 miles in 3 hours with an 50 pound pack, even when serving in a forward position. That’s why this is part of a special badge qualification.

    Since only 25% of doctors who try it achieve it, it’s obviously not just women who fail to make it.

    A good average walking pace for an unencumbered man is 3.5 mph, and for women it’s 3 mph. So both men and women are being asked to step it up to 4 mph for 3 hrs while carrying a load that is 1/3 to 1/4 of their own body weight. This is after a rather rigorous bunch of other physical tests and obstacle courses, including evacuating and carrying people both singlehanded and as part of a team.

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Actually, it turns out that some years, less than 20% of the doctors manage it.

  9. Kathleen10 says:

    Kudos to Capt. Sarah Cudd, well done. Kudos as well to her fellow soldiers who stood by her and encouraged her to keep going. No doubt they understand how grueling it is and admire her tenacity and strength. I appreciate and admire the heck out of all of our military. God bless them all.
    But I completely agree with roma247. This cannot be where God intended women to be. It is bad enough that men have to be there. I think often of how difficult it is for children to have their mother in peril and gone for long periods of time. What on earth does that do to children. I am so grateful to have grown up in a time when the longest mother was away was when she went to Bingo, and I did not have to worry about anyone harming her thousands of miles away from me.

  10. Elizabeth D says:

    I watched this and found it moving. Then I went to Mass and prayed a rosary afterwards with some friends and thinking of this really helped with meditating on the 4th Sorrowful Mystery, Jesus Carries His Cross!

    No there shouldn’t be women in combat. But it’s not for physical training reasons and certainly not for lack of courage or heart.

  11. Norah says:

    Capt Cudd seemed on the point of exhaustion but when her colleagues all came out to urge her to get up she seemed to get a second wind and walked with more confidence to the finish. Whilst agreeing that combat is no place for a woman I congratulate Capt Cudd for her achievement.

  12. Ave Crux says:

    Father, with all due respect, I am horrified that this video was held up as an example instead of lamented for the far more significant manner in which it embodies the terrible degradation to which pure, life-giving, sacred womanhood has been reduced. I am a woman and I speak from the knowledge of what God intended for Christian womanhood.

    This video filled me with such horror, such dismay and such revulsion that I feel wounded by it.

    THAT is a woman? Wearing men’s fatigues and carrying a rifle, instead of being clothed with the dignity of her womanhood, carrying a child instead of a weapon?

    Instead of being weighed down with a backpack preparing for enemy combat, she should be home forging the virtue and character of future citizens and soldiers, readying them for spiritual warfare as only Christian motherhood can, rather than stumbling along in womanly disgrace before the men who urged her on as she fell on her face — as though her participation in this military exercise was something to be cheered about and not bemoaned…And they couldn’t even assist her because she’s just “one of the guys”?W

    As with God, you treat what is sacred as though it were sacred. Womanhood is sacred because women are vessels of life; their natures were formed for a collaboration with God so exalted, so permeated with love and life-giving capacities that to reduce women to such a state in preparation for military combat borders on a kind of sacrilege against the order of God’s creation.

    It is an absolutely disgusting and revolting, heartbreaking and tragic depiction of how we have deformed God’s plan for womanhood and for Christian civilization. This video will haunt me for a long time.

  13. Max says:

    God bless her! Fortitude and perseverance! Many do not understand these sacrifices by the military; or even police and rescue personnel who risk their lives to protect and save others.

    BTW, Fr. Z: bless you for having the fortitude and perseverance as a priest and even to be accessible by voice mail.

  14. Cafea Fruor says:

    Ave Crux,

    To a degree, I agree with you. But can we please stop it with the assumption that all women are going to have children?? What about those women who can’t have children? What about those who aren’t called to marriage in the first place? Or what about those whose husbands left them but whose marriage was valid, meaning they aren’t in a position to be having children or finding another spouse?

    Of course, I have no idea about this woman’s situation other than that she’s a doctor, but why couldn’t/shouldn’t those women who can’t give life through having kids go out and give life by medically healing the wounded soldiers? For example, let’s say there’s a woman whose husband’s in the military, and they can’t have children. I know a woman in this situation. Precisely because her husband’s in the military, she and her husband haven’t been able to adopt children. So what is she supposed to do? Sit at home knitting and gossiping with the other women like her? Her options are usually A) working in some part-time secretarial job (which is frequently the only kind of job she can find because they move so often) that doesn’t serve much purpose other than helping out some company, B) doing some volunteer work which is never enough to fill her time or enough to use her personal talents, or C) work with the military wherever her husband’s stationed. Why couldn’t a woman in her position with the brains and skills become a doctor and serve as a doctor in the field?

    Even in the American Civil War, women were frequently present as nurses and sometimes as doctors. Yes, combat really, really stinks and is a great evil, but why can’t women bring life through the healing arts? Unfortunately, combat has changed from the days of, say, the Civil War, where the enemy was easier to spot, and when camouflage wasn’t necessary, but I would say that fatigues would be absolutely necessary for anyone in combat, even if they are ugly, for their own protection, so it doesn’t bother me that a woman doctor in the military might be in fatigues.

  15. kimberley jean says:

    Ave Crux, although I too find this video revolting, more pathetic really (our country has become pathetic a huge screaming farce) I have one question for you. I can’t have children. Aint I a woman?

  16. Filumene says:

    Ave Crux, I wholeheartedly share your sentiments.

    Cafea Fruor , the examples you give are the exceptions. I believe Ave Crux was speaking in broader terms.

  17. Imrahil says:

    And the first thought coming to this German former conscript…

    sure it must be against some regulation (I’m trying to translate “Vorschrift”) to use the rifle as walking-stick?

    Ah, yes, one point for the stereotypes.

    Also, I can’t suppress the feeling that whatever about other fields of life, in the military the proper thing is to be yelled at while attempting, and after success receive a brief, acknowledging, but calm praise (followed by a triple chanting of the company’s battle-cry together), than being cheered while attempting.

  18. Ave Crux says:

    To those who commented on my point about women having children, I am a single celibate laywoman with private vows — so I quite understand that not all women are called to bear children physically; but all women are called to do so morally and spiritually — either by giving an example of the purity, moral integrity, modest bearing, self-possession, and other ideals of Christian womanhood — all of which are ordained to reflect the sweet mysteries of God’s love in a very unique way — as well as by spiritual formation in providing catechesis, either to one’s own children or to those in a parish, or by the hidden immolations of a serious spiritual life in response to the dire times in which we find ourselves.

    I spoke merely in general terms about women being bearers of life and collaborators with God — there are certainly more ways than physical by which that can be done.

    So I am in complete agreement with this point — just did not take time to elaborate. I was responding more in spontaneous shock to what I was seeing. I was stunned to see this woman in men’s fatigues stumbling along with a rifle and backpack, falling on her face in the dirt, while men who should be horrified to see a woman reduced to this state were actually cheering her on as though it was something wonderful to see.

    Behold women’s “liberation” at it’s best! Now they are arguing that they should be in the front lines of combat actually doing the killing — wonderful! Perhaps we will one day even have a female “American Sniper”! The deformation of God’s intention for womanhood is mind-boggling and can only be diabolically inspired.

    Once we stepped upon this slippery slope, all the rest was bound to follow. It is simply too much to bear.

  19. Cafea Fruor says:

    @Filumene – and yet, precisely because so many people never mention or consider the exceptions (after all, how do we know that the doctor in this video is indeed not one of the exceptions?), so many women who can’t get married or can’t have children constantly face that pain when people make comments like Ave Crux did.

  20. Ave Crux says:

    This is not about whether someone can have children, if you read my reply above; there’s different forms of motherhood — women are called to spiritual motherhood in collaboration with God, even if they do not pursue, or are not capable of physical motherhood.

    It’s about the nature of womanhood as intended by God.

    AND physical motherhood is by no means *superior* to spiritual motherhood; thus the beauty of consecrated life as a spouse of Christ.

  21. HobokenZephyr says:

    She’s an Army vet. Not veteran, a veterinarian. Unless the Army plans to return to using pack mules as transport or air cav is going back to horses, I’m pretty sure the doc isn’t going to be leading any infantry assaults in the near future. She passed and many docs and nurses failed. Props to her. It’s not like she’s going to Ranger School, BuDS or SERE school next.

  22. HobokenZephyr says:

    PS – it’s a non combat badge. Like the EIB.

  23. HobokenZephyr says:

    PPS – what about St. Joan of Arc? Surely y’all aren’t taking potshots at the Maid of Orleans.

  24. Ave Crux says:

    Ah, exactly….Joan of Arc…

    She mourned having to be clothed like a man, and they called her the “Maid of Orleans” — treating her with the utmost dignity and deference for her modesty and womanhood. She never carried a weapon — only the standard to lead men in the battle for France — Catholic France — in God’s name.

    Furthermore, when she entered the military camp, she didn’t try to prove she was physically equal to the men. No, she called them to repentance, told them all to go to the Sacraments before entering battle if they hoped to have God’s blessing on their war to save France, She also told them to send away the camp-following women.

    Do you see…? A woman can sanctify and give life – spiritual life above all — by her counsels and example — not by proving she is tough and trying to excel by purely physical prowess. That is a grotesque deformation of why Woman was created by God.

  25. Subdeacon Joseph K. says:

    Thank you for posting that, Fr. Z.

    I’d like to comment that I see nothing uplifting about this video. It is just another example of our national fascination with cross-dressing. The Washington Post made a big deal out of this becuase the “soldier” in question is a female. She looks absolutely silly dressed as man in camo fatigues, using a rifle as a hiking staff and carrying combat pack that looks to be 50% of her body weight (and size). I know this is “extra” training for medical personnel, but wouldn’t it be better to have a man do this job? There is no way she could actaully bring that rifle to bear against an enemy in that condition. A typical man, who is bigger (200 lbs vs. 120?), stronger, has a greater lung capcity and larger muscles would be better suited to this job. Also a man has an abundance of testosterone – a sex hormone that women lack in the same quantity as men – which makes him aggressive and resistant to pain, two things needed in a combat sitatuion.

    Women should not be ordained to the priesthood, nor to the deaconate, nor even to the “minor orders,” of which I am a member, nor should they serve in infantry combat roles. Just as a man cannot become a mother by putting on a dress, a woman cannot become a man (and be ready to do a man’s job) by putting on a combat uniform and carrying a weapon. In both cases, such people just end up looking silly. Enough already.

  26. kimberley jean says:

    Joan of Arc was a miracle from God. No other woman and certainly no living woman in our armed forces compares.

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