Vermont Family Programs aims to provide education, resources, and support through collaboration with federal, state, and local programs to ensure Service Members, families, Veterans, and the community are knowledgeable and resilient while promoting retention and mission readiness.

Do you know from where the expression hindsight is 20/20 originated? I didn’t, so I started to research the origins to see (no pun intended!) what I might find. Bear with me, this is going somewhere: the chart the eye doctor has you read is called a Snellen chart and was first published in 1862.

This is the chart we have to read the smallest line we possibly can with one eye covered. I admit, that I have guessed one or two of the letters in a line hoping my eye doctor would say I have 20/20 vision. Well, it never happens because 20/20 means “clarity or sharpness of

vision” and I definitely don’t have that. The origin of the word hindsight appears as far back as 1841 as “backsight of a firearm”, to mean “seeing what has happened.”


So, if I pair having clarity or sharpness of vision with seeing what has happened, I arrive at hindsight is 20/20. We have the vision to look back and maybe learn how we might have handled a briefing differently or a conversation with a family member more gently. There are those that would say that it’s easy to a the right thing to do after it happens, but it’s hard to predict the future. Maybe. But

we learn at a very young age not to touch something hot because it hurts-that is hindsight and we always have the capacity to grow and learn from our experiences.


“Of all the sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’” This quote is from a poem written by John Greenleaf Whittier, whereby the

protagonist regrets not choosing a different path - dwelling on hindsight being 20/20. It is ok to look back and reflect on how we might have done things differently-as long as we don’t dwell there or attach negative feelings to our experiences. We can use our clarity of vision to see what has happened by doing better now in our personal

relationships, with our work mates, with the world around

us. SEE the possibilities! Happy Holidays from our family

to yours!


Very Respectfully,
Dave Leonard

Lieutenant Colonel, USA (Ret)

State Family Program Director

Family Programs Feature Story