Portraits of Brotherhood: Something Different in the East06.01.2018
A master brings years of experience in Masonry and in life when he rises to the East. Some bring a little something extra.
Meet Master Gregory Woodard, master of Gate City #694 in Greensboro. Elected this year, he doesn’t stand alone in his duties. He is accompanied by two furry friends – highly trained service dogs – who help keep his world running smoothly.
Greg is a military veteran with 23 years of service. The dogs help him cope with the symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD, and Reiter’s syndrome better known as Reactive Arthritis. AS Greg puts it, this is his “alphabet soup of life,” all impairments sustained when he was serving his country. He was on the receiving end of friendly fire.
His impairments have not curbed his love for Masonry or his dedication to his civic duty. In addition to his role as master of Gate City, he continues to serve a representative to the Greensboro Masonic Temple Board and as the Secretary/Property Manager for the Temple Board. He also serves the city of Greensboro and Guilford County on numerous boards and commissions and he currently serves as a North Carolina Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner.
Greg says he never thought he would ever be seated in the East.
“When asked to join the line of officers, I would always politely decline, thinking I could never remember the degree work required to work my way through the chairs, to the Master’s Chair,” he said. Truth be told, he also worried how the brothers would respond to having service dogs in lodge.
But after some long conversations with several Past Masters and a bit more prodding, he agreed to try.
“Well, it turned out I was able to do the work,” he said. “I proceeded successfully through the chairs to the East. And my lodge brethren have welcomed the dogs with open arms.”
Nikita and Sierra, both 4-year-old female German Shepard/Husky mixes, are the star of the show when he visits other lodges. Brothers and others gather to pet the friendly dogs, who clearly enjoy their work.
They are psychiatric services dogs trained to do work, or perform tasks that mitigate their handler’s disability.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a person has been through a traumatic event. During this type of event, one may think that their life or the lives of others are in danger. A person may feel afraid or feel that they have no control over what is happening around them. Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop PTSD.
TBI isa brain dysfunction caused by an outside force, usually a violent blow to the head. Treatment depends on severity, and usually involves rest, medications, and surgery.OCD is a mental disorder in which a person has unwanted and repeated thoughts, feels, ideas, sensations, obsessions, and behaviors that drive them to do something over and over.
Greg, a native of Glens Falls, NY, served three years in the U.S. Army and 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He retired in July 2002 after serving in multiple commands. He was deployed to or stationed at/on: Iraq and Kuwait, (Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield), COMDESRON 18, Portsmouth VA. , USS Nicholson DD 982, Norfolk VA., CINCLANT FLT, Norfolk, VA., USS Scott DDG 995, Norfolk, Va., NAVMARCORPRESREDCEN, Greensboro, NC., CINCSOUTH, HQ,USSOUTHERNCOM, Quarry Heights Panama, Joint Operations Center and Joint Reconnaissance Center, (Operation “Just Cause”), USS Mooseburger DD980, Charleston, SC, (operation Urgent Fury), FLECOMBATRACENLANT Dam Neck, Va., CRUITRACOM NCT Great Lakes, Ill. , F- BTRY,29th FA, USAREUR, Germany, K- BTRY 29th FA., Fort Polk, LA., C- BTRY, 6th TRNG, USAFATC, Fort Sill, OK., C-BTRY, 4th, TRNG BN, USAFATC, Fort Sill, OK.
He has received many awards and meals for his service, including the Defense Meritorious Service Metal, for support provided to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Agency, The Unified Commands and Theater Operational Units during operation “JUST CAUSE;” a Joint Service Commendation Medal for support to the Commander In Chief Southern Commands/ability to perform missions in support of National Goals in Latin America;
and the Joint Reconnaissance Center for superior military bearing, communications skills, technical knowledge, and is credited for the saving of a down helicopter and its crew.
Greg worked under the umbrella of Special Operations and Military intelligence, received training in multiple fields: counterespionage, covert collection platforms, (gathering, processing, coordinating, and disseminating), providing real time intelligence to units for the successful result of their missions assigned.