Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Nice. (*very sarcastic*)

Ok, brace's another wonderful "comment from anonymous." (Keep 'em coming people, gotta love open dialogue between two total strangers...)

It's VIETRAQISTAN. Let's see some more little girls (and boys, for that matter) going to school HERE! I wonder why the US never sent the military in to destroy Apartheid in South Africa. If you're gonna be the world policeman, you've got to go after ALL the criminals. But noooooooooo---- . Re 9/11? I doubt seriously if we the people will ever get the truth. TOO MANY THINGS IN THAT SCENARIO JUST DO NOT ADD UP FOR MY LIKING. 110 years ago, there was the USS Maine, the 9/11 of its day, which was used to get the US into another war of empire: the Spanish-American War. We STILL don't know the real reason for the Maine's demise and never will. I see no military victory in the region (hell, there are really no winners in a war anyhow, only a lot of dead, messed up minds and bodies), only a long, drawn out genocide. We could easily call out the nukes and nuke the whole Muslim world, but do you want to live in nuclear winter? This country is running out of $$, our own infrastructure is slowly crumbling, yet the right-wing neo-con-hijacked gov't, which in MY opinion is a CHRISTIAN TALIBAN, is MISUSING the military in wars of choice/empire. The MIC doesn't even want to properly outfit the troops! Hell, Afghanistan was Russia's Vietnam, so I see no "victory" (Vietnam, for the US, was a stupid unwinnable WASTE)-- also, guess who stupidly taught the Muslim crew in Af'stan how to fvck up a superpower. The best way to eradicate terrorism is to find out why we're hated around the world and do something about THAT. The whole thing is a bad situation that's going to suck us down the tubes. And I DO help others (as an aside).

Wed Apr 09, 07:54:00 PM CDT

Awesome...completely missed the point of my statement, but that doesn't surprise me at all. I guess I should've also clarified that I have never been deployed to South Africa, or anywhere in Africa for that matter, nor was I involved in the Spanish-American War, so I will not speak to those. I was, however, sitting in my uniform at the office one sunny day in September 2001 when some assholes decided to attack us and kill thousands of innocent people. I'm not sure if you remember that day, but I do, very vividly in fact.

But hey, thanks for the history lesson. Seriously, don't bitch to me about why we're in this war or how much the world hates us. I'm not sure if you know this, but I'm just a simple person, just a poor college student, not someone that's in any position to make decisions about international policy, nor do I want to make decisions about international policy.

Maybe if you hate us so much you could just go live somewhere else. Yeah, I know, not a very original retort, tough shit, it's all I've got right now. But let me guess you will continue to live here and bitch about how The Man is bringing us all down because you're too afraid to move anywhere else where you might not have the cushy American life you have today.

First, are you just trying to piss me off with your 9/11 ignorance? "Re 9/11? I doubt seriously if we the people will ever get the truth. TOO MANY THINGS IN THAT SCENARIO JUST DO NOT ADD UP FOR MY LIKING." I'm willing to bet that if the assassin that shot JFK came up to tomorrow and admitted doing it, gave you the gun, showed you pictures/video of him actually pulling the trigger and killing the President from the 6th story window of the book depository , you'd probably tell him he was lying because of course, as we all know, JFK was shot by the second gunman on the grassy knoll.

I guess I didn't realize (as you felt it so necessary to point out) that little boys and girls in the United States can't go to school because the U.S. Government forbids the education of children. Is that the analogy you're trying to make? Are you really trying to compare the oppression of women and children under the Taliban government to the state of education in the U.S.? Wow, what a stretch! Nice.

I also fail to see any logic or rationale in your referring to the U.S. Government as a "CHRISTIAN TALIBAN." That is a just plain scary analogy, really. Have you read about the Taliban? Do you know anything about them? Because I fail to see how two governments are even comparable, other than the fact that they are occupied by people. That's about the only similarity I can come up with on that matter. Maybe it's because I was out of the country for 12-15 months, or maybe because I either have my head shoved in a book in school, or better yet, maybe it's because I was out enjoying a beer and watching college hockey, but I completely missed the last time the U.S. Government stoned someone to death in the middle of a soccer stadium for violating Islamic Law (oh wait, I guess it would be for violating Christian Law, whatever that is). Geez, I guess I should pay more attention to this hellatious government we have...I can't believe I missed something like that, it didn't even make the news. Wait, I suppose that's because all the media outlets must be controlled by the CHRISTIAN TALIBAN.

Look, here's the deal...I'll be perfectly honest with you. There is nothing in the world that will ever happen, nothing that will ever come to light, nothing that will ever be found that will convince me otherwise, I will never change my mind and believe that my friends (yes, literal friends) and comrades who gave their lives in Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else for that matter, gave the ultimate sacrifice for nothing. Call me naive, ignorant, stupid, even Republican, call me whatever the hell you want - nothing will ever change my mind. You know why? Because I've been there, I've seen, I've heard it, I've smelled it and I've lived it and I refuse to let it make me a bitter person, for any reason. I remember and respect my friends, I'm sorry you never knew them.

Like I said earlier, thanks for your enlightening comment/personal perception of U.S. history. Hey though, good to see that you help people! Classy! Maybe you could help some little kids go to school...but be careful, the government may try to have you killed if they find out what you're doing.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Wow. I just have to say that I'm actually surprised every time someone leaves a comment on this page. This is for a few reasons.

First, I rarely post here deployment is over and I'm back to my civilian life. In that life, I enjoy spending time with my husband, my family, my friends and colleagues. I'm nearing the end of school, finally. After being educated for nearly 19 years of my life, I have to admit that while I do not look forward to making student loan payments, I do look forward to no longer writing papers and doing homework.

Second, I just laugh a little to myself each time someone comments and completely bashes me, the military, our mission or they just feel the need to say something rude. That's all fine if that's how you feel, but the part that cracks me up is that all of these people must think they are so brave and strong to post there extremely ignorant opinions here, yet they never seem to provide a name, or even a simple email address, to actually engage me in a real discussion about my posts, opinion or experience in "the war" (that's what I like to call it). I suppose maybe that's okay though, I'd probably just getting angry trying to have a discussion with the majority of those that I'm referring to above.

Third, why do people seem to completely overlook that fact that I was not in Iraq...I was in AFGHANISTAN. It's really a completely different country. Seriously, look at a map, I'm not lying. Here's the deal, don't come here and debate the Iraq war with me, I wasn't there, I have no personal experience to tell me what is happening in that war. I say again, I was in Afghanistan...for most of us, I would hope that we would still be able to remember why we went to Afghanistan. Let me refresh your memory....a little, old man named Bin Laden did a really bad thing to us back in 2001 and some of us, well we prefer to fight back rather than just lie down and just take it.

Now don't go and turn my no comment on Iraq into some stupid distortion where you might actually think that I don't support the Iraq war or its mission. I do support it, I support it very much. Some of the closest members of my family have served multiple tours in Iraq. I have plenty of personal experience when it comes to supporting the soldiers there, I just don't have the military experience of actually being there myself.

Also, don't bust out your stupid conspiracy theories on me about Afghanistan, Bin Laden or 9/11. Please, just keep that crap to yourself. I don't care if you believe that President Bush himself piloted all four of the planes that day. You can just continue to smoke in your mom's basement, try to solve the world's problems and don't forget to always blame the man for everything that happens to you or anyone around you.

Finally, to the last "anonymous" commenter to bash me by claiming the world may have changed, but it's not for the better. Well, well, well...those are some brave words. Not for the better, really? Please, do tell the last time you gave a year of your cushy little, American lifestyle to actually do something that helped others? I'm going to guess that outside of helping your family and maybe a few close friends, you don't do shit for anyone else. Let me tell you something...I saw little girls go to school for the first time in their lives, in a country where the Taliban government completely forbid the education of women, because of something I, alongside countless other soldiers, did.

If you think that's not changing the world for the better....well, then maybe you should just keep your blinders on because it's actually quite a rough and tumble world out there. I'd hate for you to get hurt by reality when it punches you square in the face.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Still Alive

Yo, it's been quite some time since I wrote anything for this blog. To be honest with you, I sort of forgot I even had the site until some "kind soul" posted a comment a couple weeks ago stating, "I hope you're still alive, and hope you don't lose your mind down the road w/PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] or wind up with cancer due to DU [Depleted Uranium] exposure."

Wow, what kind words some people have for their soldiers. Some Americans can be so ignorant and then waste their time wondering why the world hates us so much.

Anyhoo, I just wanted to let you all know that I am still alive, I do not suffer from PTSD, and I'm pretty sure I should be more concerned about getting cancer from the foods and drinks I consume in the United States than I should be about any depleted uranium exposure.

I feel great, my life is great, my family is even greater and school, well, ok, school kind of sucks. But I'm back at it and should have my Juris Doctor degree by December 2008. The bad part will be paying on all these student loans...

I'm thankful for my deployment experience. I'm proud of it too. I had the opportunity to see things and do things purely for the benefit of others. I helped liberate a country so little girls could go to school again and people could live their lives without the fear of being shot if they made eye-contact with the wrong person. I did that and it was rewarding beyond belief to be a part of it.

I guess what I have to say to the negative people out there is pretty damn simple, "I've helped to change the world. What did you do yesterday?"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

There's a War Out There Somewhere

That's what I heard someone say tonight at work. "There's a war out there somewhere." It's true, there is, it's just not where I am per se, but sometimes it's close enough. We've had our rocket attacks and our mine accidents and IED's, but not my unit, just my base. And really, we haven't had a lot of those and sometimes it's pretty easy to forget we're in a war zone.

Until we're at work and get the reports of the soldiers killed or injured in fighting and IED attacks. Then it all comes back into perspective and most of us are left sitting in our chairs doing our Force Protection mission all while wishing we were outside the wire making a difference. A while back I wrote about how a friend couldn't understand why a soldier would want to go to war, now I not only have come to realize that sometimes, even going to war isn't rewarding enough.

When my name was called to board the plane to begin my journey to Afghanistan, I couldn't believe how many emotions were going through me. My heart was racing and I was excited to finally get the opportunity to perform my mission and to help the people of Afghanistan. Many of us had elaborate visions of what we might be able to do here and accomplish and so far, we've not done any of them. I'm not saying that we aren't doing our mission because we are, far and above what was expected of us. We average 12 hours a day and have worked 60+ days in a row with no end in sight. What we haven't done is get outside the wire to help the local nationals. We haven't been on the humanitarian missions or the patrols that we would like to participate. We just perform our mission and we do the best that we can.

But the hard part is hearing and seeing the others that do "more" than we do. I'd venture a guess that there's a little part of each of us that wants to be part of something bigger than what we think we are, a part of everyone that wants to engage the enemy and a part that wants a little more excitement in our mission. That's the hardest part about being here, listening to what others have done on their missions and then trying to remember that our mission is important just as theirs. Even though ours might be somewhat boring, it's protecting thousands of Coalition Forces and maybe one day we'll see how important it is for us to be here, just like the soldiers outside the wire. I don't have a hard time understanding that, I just have a hard time accepting that it's going to be my only experience here.

I'm sure that there will always be a part of me that wishes I could have the experience that those others have had. I know there are no guarantees here and each and everyday could bring something new and unexpected, but I can't help but feel like I'm missing out on an even greater experience than I'm having right now.

There's a war out there somewhere and I can't help but wish I could be part of it before I leave Afghanistan.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Cindy Sheehan

This will be a quick one. Everytime I see this lady on the news or I read about her in the Stars and Stripes at dinner, I can't help but be disgusted by her.

Seriously - I just have a few questions for her.

Were you anti-war before your son joined the service and went to Iraq? If you were, was your son aware of your opinion about the war and his service? Was your son anti-war?

Because seriously, I find your opinion and your actions dispicable and I know I will never know the answer to these questions, but if your son didn't know your opinion before he gave his life for our country (your country) and his fellow Marines, I find you even more digusting. I swear, if my mother ever road the coattails of my sacrifice (which she never would because she is honorable and respectful and believes in her country and military) to further her personal agenda I would roll over in my grave a thousand times over.

Let your son's sacrifice be honorable, because it was and it should be remember as just that, not as a controversial anti-war statement that he probably never intended.

Disgrace and shame are what I think of when I hear or read your name. Not disgrace or shame for my being here or serving my country honorably, but disgrace and shame for you to be so ignorant and naive and disrespectful of your son's sacrifice and those of our military members.

Mom - please don't ever follow in the shoes of this woman.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Boots On Ground Has Begun

Well, what can I say, it's been a while since my last post and i really have no good reason why. I have been in country for almost a month now and we are still trying to get settled into a routine.

The days are long with our shifts plus my extra admin and computer duties in the orderly room, but really, it's not like I have anything else to do or another place to be right now, so the extra work is kind of welcomed at times to make the day go by faster. If I didn't have the extra duties, I would probably adopt a friend's philosophy on being here, "if you sleep twelve hours a day, you're really only in country for six months." Sometimes I get ten hours, but never twelve. I always have to get up and walk to the latrine and by then it's too bright outside to go back to bed.

Afghanistan is interesting that's for sure. Everything here smells like dirt and the dirt is very dirty. If it isn't dry and dusty, it's rainy and muddy so it's kind of a catch-22 on any given day. I'm pretty well settled into my little room. My pictures of my husband, family and friends adorn my 1/4-inch thick walls to remind me of home and of all the good things I have to come back to in eleven or so months. The Afghan people, at least the locals on base, seem to be very friendly towards the Coalition Forces. They greet you with smiles and a well spoked, "how are you?" each time you say hello to them. The children are beautiful and sad at the same time. They seem to have nothing, yet they probably have a lot in their world. They just aren't aware of what their are missing in other worlds very far away. They wave and say hello on the perimeter and ask, just as the others, "how are you?"

Our mission is quite boring to say the least, but I guess Force Protection missions can be a little boring when no one is shooting at you. So, I guess for now I won't complain too much about the boredom on shift.

In my spare time, I have found many books to read that I had started at past times in my life. The first was Band of Brothers, which is phenomenal and is also at the top of the NCO recommended reading list for the Army. Next was The Greatest Generation. Currently, it's We Were Soldiers Once, and Young. I guess I am looking for insight into other people's war experiences. I understand this one is different from the others, there will probably be no combat for me to experience, but the stress of being away from home and the stress of living in a military environment are probably all relavent to any deployment.

I guess the books have really got me thinking about today's attitude towards war, deployment, the military, and love of country. Tom Brokaw really was right when he said the World War II generation was The Greatest Generation. I don't think American will ever see a generation such as that again. There were glimpses of the patriotism and the support for the troops after 9/11, but most of that has faded now into people's personal lives and their need to be all about themselves.

When my husband was deployed to Iraq, I skipped family support meetings because I didn't want to listen to spouses and families complain that they had no Internet access or phones to call from just days after the unit crossed into Iraq. I couldn't stand to listen to people complain that there was no email access from day one. It made me angry. I wanted to look at them all and tell them to write a letter. What did they think families and spouses did in Vietnam and Korea, and WWII and WWI, even Desert Storm. People just don't think about the sacrifices that soldiers have made in the past to do their duty and they don't think that soldiers today need to make any sacrifices to do theirs. I can't imagine our generation, my generation, having to do what The Greatest Generation did for their country. People simply wouldn't do it. We complain about one-year boots-on-ground policies when in WWII some soldiers were away from home for three or four years. Some didn't shower for sixty-nine days and we complain if our water here isn't hot enough. What are people thinking? This is not a vacation, it is a deployment. With deployments come sacrifices and with sacrifices come struggles and rewards. The hard part is making it through the struggles to reap the rewards in the end.

I am so very proud to be here at this place, at this moment, in this war. I can't tell you how good it feels to be part of something that is so big in this world. It is amazing, it truly is and honestly, I don't care about the people at home who don't think we should be here. It is too bad that those people have so much spare time on their hands that all they can do is complain about the people who fight for their freedom. They just annoy me more than anything and their ignorance just makes me laugh. If they only knew that most soldiers probably don't even hear what they say.

I will admit that some things here can be very frustrating. Integrating a National Guard unit into Active Duty isn't the easiest thing in the world. Sometimes (mind you this is all my opinion and sometimes I don't know much) the command should be tougher like the AD and the soldiers should have a little more discipline. We have young NCO's who drive me crazy and, in my honest opinion, could get people killed in combat (thank God we will probably not ever be in combat). They can't make decisions, they are lazy and selfish and are everything that a leader should not be. The bad thing is, they think they are good leaders. They aren't. It is like an entire section of LT Normans Dike's from Band of Brothers - "LT Dike wasn't a bad leader because he made bad decisions. LT Dike was a bad leader because he made no decisions." It is frustrating. I wish they all would understand leadership the way Lt. Gen. Harold Moore did, "in the American Civil War it was a matter of principle that a good officer rode his horse as little as possible...If you are riding and your soldiers are marching, how can you judge how tired they are, how thirsty, how heavy their packs weigh on their shoulders?"

I'm not an NCO or an Officer, I am a junior enlisted soldier, partly by choice, partly by failure, and I hope to God that when I become a leader, I don't ever forget that soldiers should come first, not me. I hope I will not be as disappointing as they are and if I am, I pray that someone tells me and that if they do tell me, I pray I am not so arrogant or ignorant that I don't understand.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ready to Go

Well, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth yet. We're still at our mobilization station preparing to leave for lovely Afghanistan.

I don't have a lot to say right now. The trianing has been hectic at times, slow at others. Some of it has been really good and we have learned a lot, other parts of it have been seemingly worthless and have left me feeling like the Army has done nothing but stolen that day from my life. For the most part though, things aren't so bad. I just hope that we never have to use the majority of the training we have received.

We have been busy since returning from Christmas. Our days are filled with training exercises and lanes evaluations. The hard part though has been adjusting to the Army life. For me, the really hard part is always being around people. I like people, but that's when I can get away from them if I want. That is not so easy here because people are everywhere and we tend to get sick of each other. Then things get ugly. People (me included)get snippy and crabby and bitchy and there is nowhere to go to get away from them. It is frustrating and it is only the beginning of a very long year.

We will get into country soon and I am hoping things will settle down more once we arrive and get settled in to our new home. I hope to write more from there and have better stories that are not so whiney like this one.

For now, I miss my husband, my family and my friends. I miss golf, movies, law school, my dog, and poker games. I suppose soon enough I will have a new routine that will become my life. Then I can look forward to returning to the old one and missing the things from the new one.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Army Training, Sir!

Training, training, training. That's what we do in the Army. We train for war, while in the back of our mind we hope we will never go there. But it's what we do. We train to prepare for the worst hoping that our reactions will be so engrained in our heads we'll do the right thing without even thinking about it. The ultimate goal is to minimize casualties and increase our chances of success in our missions. We train constantly.

I have been training in the Army for ten plus years. Training in my specialized job as well as training in the basic soldier skills we should all possess. Things like weapons training, NBC training, troop movements, reacting to direct and indirect fire, and so on and so forth. We all train for the worst and hope for the best. The majority of us never thought we would use our skills, we just thought we would take all the pay and benefits of military service and never actually have go to war, even though we train for it.

It's all different now.

You see, now we train for a war that we all know we are going to be an active part of in just a few short months. We train for mission success and to minimize casualties. But now, those "casualties" are my friends, my family for the next year and a half. Now the game is real and the training takes on a whole new life when we go through it. It is surreal, it really is because it's real now, the game is real, the war is real, and everything counts now.

I'm not saying that I never took Army training seriously before or that other soldiers didn't either, but I am saying that the consequences of failing a task are a lot higher now than they ever were before. The cost could be a life, not just a retest and try again. It's real this time.

We have done this training many times before. The MOUT training, the combat patrols, the CQC, the convoy training, all of it we have done before. But to do it last week, it was surreal. To be in a convoy and get "ambushed" and to race to the rally point, knowing that some of your fellow soldiers, your family, your friends, aren't going to be there when you get there, it's surreal. To have the evaluator tell you to call in a 9-line Medivac request for casualties who have sucking chest wounds and are missing limbs, it's surreal.

I know it's not for real today, but one day it probably will be and it just changes everything. Which friend will it be? What will the injuries be? Will they make it? What is going to happen?

The hard part is sitting with these soldiers everyday, my family of soldiers and seeing their faces knowing that we might not all come home. I pray that we all will, but the fact is there are no guarantees. The other day, we stopped at the Shoppette, and outside there was a new black truck parked in the handicap space with a purple heart sticker in the window. None of us really thought anything about it until we came out of the shoppette and saw a very humbling site. A handsome, young soldier, muscular and hopeful, in a wheechair with both of his legs amputated at the knee. I didn't know what to do. I looked at him and he looked back and smiled. It was like he was saying it was ok, he was proud of his service and what he did and of what he sacrificed.

I know that in the end, none of us will come home the same person we were when we left. I know I'm already different and I haven't been gone that long. What I don't know is how we will change or what will happen in the end. That's the frightening part. I guess you don't always get to know the ending to things in life. If we did, things would be pretty boring. I do know that each and every one of us is scared and no matter what we show on the outside, there's always a bit of fear on the inside. We can only hope that our training will pay off in the end, that we will do the right thing when we need to and that we will all come home safely.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Army of One?

So here we are, hanging out at our mobilization station for pre-deployment training. Things are actually pretty ok so far. I am sure that most people would think things are pretty jacked up at times, but for the most part, judging from experience, the process here is pretty much what I expected, but it can be frustrating.

The basic concept here to get us all trained up to be high speed, hooah, hooah, active duty soldiers so we can go overseas, complete our mission and come home. In reality, we are National Guard soldiers who are probably more capable than a lot of Active Duty soldiers when it comes to performing our tasks and completing our missions.

Don’t get me wrong here, I respect Active Duty soldiers very much, they have made careers out of defending our Nation and I have not. I don’t plan to either, but that doesn’t mean that the National Guard is not up to the AD standard.

You see the difference is pretty easy to figure out when you stop and think about things. AD soldiers are soldiers 24/7/365. No questions asked. It’s what they do. They are soldiers in and out and they train for their mission as part of their job, their career. One would expect AD soldiers to be able to do their missions blindfolded if necessary. I mean really, it’s what they do all the time. The thing with National Guard soldiers is that we are soldiers for one weekend a month and two weeks a year. We have less training time in a year than AD does in a quarter. One might think they can draw the simple conclusion that less training time equals less capability to perform our mission to standard. But that just is not the case. It’s simply not true. You see, National Guard soldiers are more than soldiers. We are plumbers, electricians, police officers, physical trainers, bankers, nurses, and college students. We bring to the table not just our military specialties, but our civilian ones as well. That is an advantage that AD soldiers do not have over Guard soldiers.

We have one weekend a month to accomplish some of the same tasks as AD soldiers may have the entire month to complete and we get them done in that weekend. The National Guard moves at a much higher pace than the AD component and that difference is what makes this deployment process frustrating.

We have been at our mob station for a while now and really have accomplished no great training that we will need for our deployment. We have spent days doing nothing and countless hours waiting because no one seems to know what is going on. It is frustrating. The basic process has been something along these lines… stand in line, sit in briefings, listen to some people talk to you, stand in line some more, sit in more briefings, sign here, initial here, sign here again, stand in line, review some paperwork, sign here initial here, get some shots, sit around for a while, fill out the same paperwork you did yesterday because they lost it, show up at the Central Issue Facility to get deployment equipment and have them not even know who you are even though you are scheduled, and wait in line some more. Parts of it are completely ridiculous.

This whole process is completely retarded. I mean please. Have you not been mobilizing units since September 11, 2001? Seriously, can there be no smoother process for this? I am amazed that we win wars the way that our Army functions on a day to day basis. I mean really, if things worked liked they really were supposed to work…we would’ve been out of Iraq before we even got there. (Yes, I am being somewhat sarcastic…)

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not being antiwar or antimilitary or anything. I'll defend the military any day of the week. And I am not saying I don’t want to be here or that I don’t want to go, because I do. I am just trying to vent some frustrations about this process. Just because you want something in the end doesn’t mean you have to enjoy the process you go through to get there.

So the DoD policy says one year Boots-on-Ground, but really, this is more like two years. If we were AD, our mobilization station would be our duty station. We would live in our homes during the pre-deployment process. We would deploy to perform our assigned mission. (i.e. Infantry would be Infantry, Scouts would be Scouts, Military Police would be Military Police and so on and so forth). We would then deploy to our destination and our one-year clock would start. We would serve one year BOG and return to our duty station to demobilize and go back to our homes and our families. But we aren’t AD, we are NG.

Our lives stop and readjust starting the day we get our alert notification. Mine was June 2005. Since that time, my husband and I had many decisions to make in reaction to the alert notification. I dropped out of law school. Our plans to purchase a home where I would’ve gone to school changed to having to buy one where my husband works. Since I dropped out of school, we had to adjust to one income for since we had no student loans to supplement for my not working during school. We cancelled all plans that we had in the next few months because we didn’t even have a possible mobilization date. My unit scheduled some drills, some Soldier Readiness Processing, and other necessary training to fill some time. I went to a school in Las Vegas for a week and for the rest of the time, I pretty much waited to be deployed. And here I am now, mobilized, Title 10 Active Duty status, waiting for my year to start. I would imagine that we will probably be here for three or more months, training, before we ever get overseas to start the clock. You see, we would need the three or more months training because we don’t get mobilized to perform our assigned mission anymore. Oh no, the NG has a pretty good trend now of being mobilized for completely different missions than they are qualified for resulting in numerous months spent at a mobilization station re-training to be qualified for their “new” mission. Plus, in the end we’ll have another month of demob when we return in 2007.

Let’s do the math now…six months from alert to mob, four months mob time, one year in country, one month demob = 22-23 months of my life affected by this mobilization.

I’m not trying to complain about this, I really am not. I am just trying to make sense of all of this and it’s not easy all the time. Especially now when we are all thrown into a chaotic process, with seemingly no real organization, no answers for our questions, constant change, and soldiers who are now trying to adjust to always being around other soldiers, whether you like them or not.

There is no alone time here unless you are creative and can make it for yourself somehow. There are people who annoy the crap out of you that you cannot get away from. There are people that you enjoy being around that you can never seem to get tasked together for something. People are crabby because they don’t know what is going on and what will come next and they are stressed out having been moved from their homes and their lives into this unknown world. It is stressful for all of us. The scary part of it all is that I am sure that in due time, this will be normal for us and we will feel the same stress and frustration upon returning home to our families. That’s the scariest reality of it all.

But for now, I will continue to adjust fire and train as required to perform our mission successfully. When I get just a little down or a little frustrated, I remind myself of something that my sister told me to remember during the tough times, “There’s no place I’d rather be than right here right now, ” and I think that’s true. And I drive on.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Saying Goodbye

This is not an easy one for me to write. Partly because I seriously am intoxicated right now, but mostly because it's just not easy to say goodbye to people when it comes to this.

You see, I said once before that my biggest fear in this whole deployment is that some of the people who are my friends today won't be my friends when I return. And, in part, I guess that's ok, but the part of it hurts very much. I wish I could stay here with my family, my friends, my classmates, but I cannot and, although I need to go and I know it will be a great experience, a huge part of me wants to stay here and pretend like none of this is going on, even though it is.

Today, I went to see the movie "Jarhead" and I thought it was wonderful. Although stereotypically Marines are dumber than Army people (Hooah!) I still felt myself being able to relate to the story on a whole different level than most of the other people in the theater. It was a great movie, it told the frustration of war, the boredom of it, and the stress soldiers feel when having to deal with their relationships back home while they are away. Like war itself isn't stressful enough.?

I truly am excited to deploy with the people I will serve alongside. I am not joking when I say that I could not ask for a better group of soldiers. I like them all, I truly do. I like their different personalities, I like their traits and I like their willingness to be soldiers when the time calls. On the outside I may have cursed the organization, I have burned some bridges (most of which I am ok with burning, but some that I truly regret and can probably never right), and I have dead-ended myself into a pretty much non-promotable situation, but all in all, and I am truly being honest here, I am excited to leave. I am excited to have the camaraderie that only soldiers can have. I am excited to serve my country and I am excited to help others. As hard as it is to believe and as strange as it might sound, I am excited to go to war. I cannot wait for this to start, but what scares me is that I might enjoy it or I might regret it. Only time will tell, but it is something that I must do and I am excited for that.

I do have to tell you that today was one of the hardest days of my life. This weekend I spent my last true weekend with my law school friends and it was extremely difficult for me. Part of me just wanted to get in my car and walk away while another part of me could not have enough fun and could not drink enough beer to make it better. I spent the weekend cheering on once of the greatest NCAA hockey schools in the Nation, the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, at the beautiful Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. Even though the Sioux lost both games, it was still a surreal experience to watch them play in such a grand arena, especially knowing it will be a year and a half before I see them play here again. It just doesn't seem real.

The best part of my day today was an unexpected trip for lunch to Boston's with my roommate and a friend from some lunch and a little round of Golden Tee 2005 arcade golf. This one particular friend did a little time in the Old Guard, the 3d Infantry Division, out of Washington, DC, in his past military time. As we were standing there playing golf and eating appetizers, he started talking about some of his old days in the Old Guard and the different duties they would perform. I love to listen to his stories because I feel like I can understand them in a way different from that of our non-military friends. He continued on about a night when he was up for emergency duty, but the guys went ahead and got intoxicated because they didn't expect to get the call to duty. Mother Nature had different plans for these Infantry boys and decided to drop a bit of rain on them during the night. The river in DC began to rise and they were called to sandbag alongside it to prevent flood damage to the many Generals' homes that occupied the base. He continued on to tell me about how he was presented with a coin from the Sergeant Major of the Army for his positive attitude in the operation.

Of course, I thought this was pretty damn cool because I can appreciate the effort soldiers put in to trying to earn a coin when most of the time they are overlooked and don't receive any recognition. For those of you who don't know, to "get coined" in the Army is like receiving a very special on-the-spot award for some sort of achievement or service usually witnessed or recognized by a commander of some sort. It is tradition that if you are at a bar with another soldier whom you know as received the same coin as you in the past, you may throw your coin down on the bar and if the other soldier cannot produce their coin, they buy a round of drinks. In some instance, some might consider a coin a pretty high achievement, given the circumstances it was presented under.

Anyway, my friend continues to tell me about his coin from the Sergeant Major of the Army, and I'm thinking, "Geez, that's pretty damn high up there. All I have is a coin from the Command Sergeant Major of the Sergeants Major Academy and one from the Lieutenant General of Fifth Army." Both pretty damn cool coins to have, but nothing like one from the Sergeant Major of the Army, most soldiers don't even get to meet this guy much less have the opportunity to ever be a position to be coined by him." And then, as my friend concludes his story about the coin, he does the unthinkable.

He pulls the coin from his pocket and hands it to me saying it is mine for my deployment to Afghanistan. I need to carry it and protect it and most importantly, I need to bring it home safely with me when I return from my deployment. It made me cry.

I will carry it and I will return it, mark my word, it will come home safely and be returned as it should be.

I never thought that coming to law school would leave me with such a good group of friends, but it has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can only hope and pray that each one of them will be there for me when I return and that we will continue as we are today once that day comes.

I have been blessed in my first year of law school to find great people, I have found the best roommate one could hope for, I have found the best drinking partners one could ever seek to find, I have found the best Canadian, the best hockey fans, the best North Dakotans, the best Minnesotans, I have found the best group to study with, the best to friends to tell me when I am jacked up, the best people to judge my logical stopping point for alcohol intake, the best bowling company one could ask for along with the best study group I could have ever hoped to find for finals. I have found friends from across the Nation and friends who made me good about who I am no matter where I or they came from. I also found one of the best friends a person could ask for in their lifetime. I have been very lucky and I can only thank God for that.

There is not one part of me that wants to say, "Goodbye," to anyone of these friends, but I must because I have a job to do. I will say that I now understand the military is not only a huge part of my life, it probably is my life, which is something that I never intended, but I wholeheartedly accept as fact. I cannot imagine any part of my life without it or without the people that I have met as a result of my membership in it. It truly is my life as much as it can be without my being a true Active Duty soldier. I accept it and I love it for everything that it is, even though my verbal opinion may seem to contradict that at times, it truly is how I feel.

I thank God for my civilian friends as much as I do my military friends. The only question to be seen now is how many of my friends will be there in 545 days when I return a 30-year-old war veteran and a different person than I am today? Truly, very few can answer that today and that's ok. I understand what it is like to welcome home strangers who used to be friends from an environment that I will never understand as they did. I understand, I really do. The important thing is that people are there when I return and at that time, I think I will really, truly know what real friends are, those that will put up with the shit, the frustration of war, the awkward adjustment to home life and the strange feeling of my being a stranger in my own life. Those people will stand the test of time and stay true friends and I commend anyone that can make through this with me because it will not be easy, for me or for them.

I just hope they are all there when I return so I can thank them for all they will do starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

It would probably be equally as easy to title this post, "What Goes Around, Comes Around," but I think "Open Mouth, Insert Foot" is just as appropriate.

I should have learned my lesson on this earlier this summer, and I kind of thought I did, but apparently that is not the case.

In order for this to make sense, let me take you back to mid-July 2005. It was a beautiful, perfect afternoon; perfect for the game of golf that is. A friend and I were enjoying the short, but challenging 9-hole Pebble Creek golf course in my hometown. It's a nice little Par 35. I started with a perfect drive, pushing it about 235 and dropping it right in the middle of the fairway. It was followed by a wedge shot that I pulled just left of the green where I landed it about 14 inches into the fringe and about 16 feet from the hole. I pulled out the old trusty 7-iron for a little chip and run, hoping to putt for par. I swung and the ball took a perfect flight, landing exactly where I wanted it to on the green. It rolled and played the break perfectly, ending in the hole for birdie. It was the start to the best round of golf I have ever played and for those of you who know me, you know I've played a lot in my day.

Now I know you are probably asking yourself where this story is going. What could this possible have to do with deploying to Afghanistan and sticking one's foot in their mouth? Be patient young jedi, you'll see in the end.

I parred the next hole and went on to the 3rd. The 3rd hole is a short par 4 at only 219 yards, but it's uphill about 80 yards. So, realistically you need to hit the drive of your life to plant it on the green in one. What you don't know yet is that we are following the slowest threesome I have ever seen on a course in my life. It is clear from the get-go that only one of these guys can even play golf at all and the other two seem to be completely incapable of picking up this game any time soon, like now. So the three of them are on the green putting...and putting...and still putting. I am growing impatient...and impatient...and impatient as I wait for them. I debated on whether or not to hit my tee shot. I'd be lying if said I didn't halfway intend to hit close to them so they could get the point that they were playing a little slow. By this time, the group behind us has now caught us on the teebox as well.

I decide to go for it, hoping to get the show on the road. Maybe they will get a clue and exercise a little golf courtesy and let us play through at the next hole. I tee it up and let it fly. Keep in mind that I have played this course many times and 99.9% of the time on this hole I hit the fairway and leave myself with a 50-65 yard wedge into the green. Not today. I could not have asked for a more perfect drive. The ball carried until about 15 yards off the front of the green. With my swing, I somehow can usually manage a little topspin on my drives which gives me a little extra distance at the end after the ball lands. Today, it was just enough to send the ball forward, onto the green and right through the group who was still putting.

Granted, I didn't yell "fore" as I should've. My bad. I think part of that was because it didn't go into them on the fly and part of it was just because I never thought it go that far. Needless to say, the "golfer" guy was not happy and he waited for us to get to the green. Once there, he proceeded to yell at me about golf courtesy and how I could've killed one of them and so on. I apologized, said I never thought it would go that far and then brushed him off and played my next shot halfway ignoring him. Part of me was also thinking, "you know, if you knew anything about golf, you should've greeted me with a 'hey, that was a helluva drive' before yelling at me for hitting into your super slow group."

Anyway, we backed off and I finished the round with a 37 which is the best round I've ever shot in my life.

About a month later I was playing a course with some fellow law classmates at the university course when I was standing next to the teebox on the 4th hole. I turned slightly to the right and was pelted center-mass, right square in the sternum, with a ball hit from about 150 yards out. It caught me on the fly and honestly, it made me cry it hurt so badly. I thought somebody shot me. I was so mad. There was no "fore!" yelled, there was no warning whatsoever. It scared the crap out of me. So I picked up the ball and proceeded to yell at this guy that hit it. The closer I got to him, the younger he became. By the time I got to him, he was all of about 14 years old. He apologized and said he lost his ball in the sun and I yelled at him about golf courtesy and how he could've killed one of us and how, if his ball had been ten inches higher, it would've caught me square in the face and then I would've been really upset. He apologized again and I went back to my game, still completely pissed about the whole deal.

And then it hit me, ha ha ha, what goes around comes around. I guess I probably had that one coming after so arrogantly hitting into the group in front of me not even a month prior. Life is funny like that I guess and you would probably think that would've taught me a lesson. I thought it did, but then, life did it to me again.

Finally! We're getting to the point. Open mouth, insert foot.

No sooner did I spend time standing on my homemade soapbox in my last post ranting and raving about anti-war people and blah blah blah, than I was met with random acts of kindness and thanks from complete strangers for serving in the military.

My training required me to travel to Las Vegas, NV for a security school with Air Force and it was on this trip that I realized maybe there are still some thankful people out there in this country we call America. Now I don't know what it is about military people, but when they travel, you can pick them out in a heartbeat. No matter how hard they try to look like random civilians, they just cannot pull it off. It's nearly impossible. Either their giant special-forces-looking backpack gives them away, or the chain around their neck from the dogtags, or they inevitably will be carrying some sort of military reading material (i.e. a copy of Black Hawk Down or We Were Soldiers Once and Young). Another dead giveaway is the fact that they usually have to travel to schools in groups and since none of them dress the same way in civilian clothes, because they aren't friends out of uniform, they look like the oddest group of people in the airport.

So there I was with my group of four "friends" in the airport, carrying my black backpack with my army nametape on it and reading a copy of "My War: Killing Time in Iraq" by Colby Buzzell (HINT HINT - This book is a must read for anyone interested in soldier stories). The lady I sat by on the first flight told me all about her Army experience when she was younger and how she appreciates our service so much. She thanked us all for our sacrifices and wished us the best of luck on our upcoming mission/deployment. It was nice.

On the second flight, I sat among a group of gentlemen from the island of Malta. Man, they had beautiful Italian accents not to mention Italian looks as well. I digress. Anyway, the man next me also recognized us as military and offered us his best wishes on our training and deployment. I thought that was very nice.

After we got our luggage, we boarded the little bus to get the rental cars. We sat by a mother and a daughter who also pegged us as military and asked us all sorts of questions about deploying and how our families deal with it as well. They were so appreciative of our service it was almost embarrassing and I couldn't wait for the bus ride to end.

We got the rental cars and traveled to McDonald's on Las Vegas Blvd for some lunch. While the five of us were sitting there enjoying our overly expensive and overly unhealthy lunches, a man in a suit and tie stopped by our table to ask if we were military. He looked like a professional chauffeur or something along those lines. Anyway, we told him we were military and he asked if we had been "over there" yet. We explained that we were in Las Vegas for training in preparation of going "over there" so we hadn't been there yet, but soon enough we would be. He pulled a roll of cash out of his pocket. He proceeded to peel a $20 bill off the roll and dropped it on the table in front of us all and then he said some of the most appreciative words I have ever heard from a complete stranger.

"I would like you to all have a drink on me tonight. You take this money and enjoy a good time. Have a drink on me. You deserve it for all that you do for our country and for us. The people of this country do not deserve people like you who fight for our freedom. Enjoy your night and thank you for all that you do for us."

Wow. That man, that total stranger, made my day more complete than anyone ever could have at that moment. He brought tears to my eyes. Most people cannot even tell the ones they love how much they truly appreciate them and for him to be so honest with a group of perfect strangers, it made my day. It made the day for all of us.

Lesson learned. Even though there seems to be anti-war voices everywhere you turn in this country, they are few but they are loud. There might actually be a majority out there that honestly supports us in what we are doing and although they may be quiet at times, they know when their voices need to be heard and they don't talk just to hear themselves speak. They are strong and powerful and they know when to say the right things, the things that make a difference in a soldier's life and the things that make us remember why we joined this military service in the first place.

It is to those people that I say, "thank you." I am honored to serve your country, fight for your rights and defend your freedom.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

What Grinds My Gears

You wanna know what really grinds my gears?

Ok, I stole that from Family Guy, but it seemed the most fitting for this post so I don't feel bad about stealing it, especially since I outright give credit to where I stole it from.

But seriously, do you want to know what really grinds my gears? Anti-war people grind my gears. I will forewarn you that this post might display a little more of the harsh person in me; the one that occasionally enjoys standing on my homemade soapbox, voicing my opinion on some subject (that I feel I know enough about to speak my mind intelligently) usually in response to some idiotic statement made by some stranger that just grinds my gears.

People like Cindy Sheehan and other naysayers who think they understand what they are talking about and really have no idea. Most of them are just jumping on the bandwagon of complaining when they really have no clue what they are talking about or what they are doing. I mean really people, do you have nothing better to do than waste your time supporting the anti-war effort that will probably never accomplish anything?

My outburst on this comes from something that I ran across on the Internet yesterday. You see, I have been checking other soldier blogs while writing my own and a while back, I came across a wonderful blog that all should read. or click the link to the right "A Female Soldier's Story."

It is written by a female soldier; she's a mother, a wife, and an Army medic in the 101st Airborne Division. I have been reading her posts and following her website for the past few weeks, relating to how much her feelings on deployment are much the same as mine. Yesterday, I checked in on her site again, where she had written her final stateside post. She has left for Iraq and I wish her and her unit the best. What grinds my gears are the comments left by some people after this post.

While most of the posts are extremely supportive and encouraging - others read like this:

"Amanda" writes:

"Do you not feel guilty that you are helping in the killing of innocent Iraqis - what did they do to deserve what has happened to them? You can always choose not to go.
As for prayers and sympathy to your family - forget it! And when you get back and realise all the death and destruction (which you helped to cause) is a complete waste - dont say you have not been warned."

As well as - "I know freedom isnt free - but as long as its the Iraqis that are paying the price in lost lives, I suppose thats ok. . . . you went to Vietnam to stop the spread of communism because that was the big fear back then. But, you lost the war, and it still did not make any difference - the politicians lied to you then and they are lying again. Our baby-killing soldiers are continuing to die for nothing."

Plus this - "If you think you are doing an important job for your country, just look at how much you or your family will get compensated for your death or injury. Now tell me the President thinks what you are doing is important. Our country needs idiots like you so we can over-run other countries and take their natural resources."

This - "Go ahead, waste your life, just like so many other young people have done in Iraq and Vietnam. As for Bush's "good vs evil" speech - well, this is the same guy who told us about WMD, etc, so why would you believe him now."

And the best one yet - "I'm not anti-war - I'm anti-killing- people-based-on-a-lie. I'm also pro-women's rights, which the women in Iraq will not get. As for 25 million oppressed people, are we talking about South and Central Americans who are living under brutal right-wing dictators who were installed by the US? Be proud of yourself when you see women in Iraq now forced to stay in their homes because of the religious zealots you helped put in power."

"Christians for Cheap Oil" write: (How very not Christian of them I think.)

"Who cares how you, as a soldier feels, our great leader and the other politicians dont! And, when you come home with psychological problems from seeing young lives shattered (hopefully yours wont be one of them) dont expect much help from the army. Well, go off and do your duty so we can continue to have cheap oil and our leaders can get richer."

Ok, seriously folks. Idiots. I just want to ask these people if they are retarded, because they are obviously about as ignorant as a person can get.

First of all, if you are so all about being against this conflict, then talk about this conflict. Don't hide the fact that you have no intelligent argument to stand on by bringing up side issues that have nothing to do with Iraq.

Second, why don't you base your argument in fact instead of some crap that you heard from Michael Moore who distorts the truth more than a kaleidoscope distorts your vision.

Third, and what really got me going yesterday, is the fact that these idiots have to take a soldier's website and graffiti it with their idiotic statements. I mean please, this is a place to post your comments. It is not designed for "Amanda" to argue back and forth with every other comment because she feels the need to always get the last word in.

Fourth, if you anti-war people hate it so much, move to Canada, or France, or Germany, or maybe even Iran or any one of dozens of countries in the Middle East. I am sure they would welcome you there if you are so into supporting oppression and abuse and genocide. I hear it can be quite popular in other parts of the world while it obviously is not here in America.

Fifth, which really goes along with #4, if you have such an earth-shattering revelation to state, get your own damn website. Or are you afraid that no one will visit it?

Folks, being a soldier isn't easy. It doesn't provide the luxury of second-guessing every order given and of putting all decisions to a vote. It is a job that thousands of people choose to sign up for each year because they believe in our country, in our history and in our freedom. It is something that very few people have the intestinal fortitude to do and thank God there are people who do it, when the majority of Americans just reap the benefits of a strong military force.

I'm not going to even debate whether or not we "should" be in Iraq. The fact is that we are there, we have started something and we need to finish it. Do you anti-war people ever stop and think about how devastating it would be for the people of Iraq if we just up and left tomorrow? Please, the good people, the majority that support the Coalition, would be crushed, just as they were before under Saddam. It doesn't matter how we got there - you don't stop putting out a fire because it should have never started in the first place.

One more thing for "Amanda" - I hope that in the future your family doesn't get caught in some natural disaster somewhere where you end up with no food, no water, no fuel, no shelter, and no transportation because the only people that are coming to help you are those "baby-killing soldiers" that you seem to be so fond of. What will you do?

Like I always say, "Everybody hates a cop until they need one." The same appears to go for you anti-war protestors when it comes to soldiers as well.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Moving Closer

This deployment has been on my mind twenty-four/seven since I first posted. It is impossible to talk about everything that goes through a person's head when faced with this situation, so I won't even attempt it.

I spent the weekend with my unit again and we started out official processing for deployment. Some may know that the unofficial motto of the Army is "hurry up and wait" and it was once again proven to be true this weekend. Starting fresh at 0800 on Friday morning, we stood in formation, then we sat in briefings, then we stood in line to get our files only to move on to numerous processing stations where we again waited in line. Three shots, a cavity filling, an eye test, a blood draw, paperwork processing, and fourteen hours later, I was able to go home. But I didn't.

I missed a memorable law school activity on Friday afternoon to partake in this military processing fun. While my classmates were bonding and competing Friday afternoon, I was sitting in a dentist's chair. And not just any old dentist chair mind you, a mobile dental trailer dentist's chair. It's not everyday that one gets a cavitiy filled in a converted semi-trailer that has now become a mobile dental office. What an experience is all I can say. At least the dentist was cute, but that didn't seem to make it much better, it still hurt and would only be more painful when the novocaine wore off later.

We were released at 2230 hours, for you non-military folk, that's 10:30 p.m. I took a friend from my unit, a medic who will be deploying with me, to the evening's law school party where we were looking for beer to numb the toothache pain. I thought it would be fun to socialize with my law friends, but it isn't like it used to be and I wish it was. As hard as I tried to talk to friends about the semester and their lives, it is often like trying to make conversation with the stranger you happen to sit by on an airplane. Every once in a while you find a common topic that you both have a story about, but for the most part, it's just awkward and you can't find the right time to walk away. As hard as I tried to have a good time, my conversations kept turning back to the medic about the day, about our training, about our mission and about what crazy trouble we could possibly get into while deployed.

My civilian friends try to understand, but it is hard. Talking to military people is much like starting law school. You see, in the beginning of law school, you feel like people are speaking Greek. There is a whole new language to understand and it takes a while to adopt it and figure it out. The military is much the same way. It is full of acronyms and sayings that your average civilian will never know and it also consists of a bizarre sense of humor that one can only understand because they have military traning experiences. There essentially is a military language and some will never learn to speak it.

My husband was deployed for OIF I in January 2003 and returned fifteen months later. We had only been married for four months when he left and by the time he came home, we had been apart longer than we had known each other. I'm not going to paint a pretty picture of the perfect reunion, because there wasn't one. We tried very hard to return to "normal" but the secret was that "normal" didn't exist. He was home for only a few months when I left for law school and we again spent more time apart than we did together. The stress of his homecoming and our adjusting coupled with the stress of school and my new friends made things very difficult for us. I often thought maybe it would be easier to go on with my "new" life and just walk away from what I couldn't fix. Law school can be very stressful and it is very time consuming. It was very easy for me to be selfish and only relate to my friends here rather than try to keep things together that were hundreds of miles away, even though I didn't feel good about it. I went back home for the summer and got alerted in June for my deployment which leads me to where I am today.

My husband does not talk about Iraq. It is such a rare occasion for him to speak about it that when he does I don't say a word. I want to ask questions and I want to know but I am afraid that I will disrupt the random story and I will lose my chance at even hearing that small part of his life. The year and a half that he was gone is lost to us. It is a time where he was in another world and I was in limbo waiting for him to return to our life.

When I wrote my first post on deployment, I hesitated on whether or not to send it to him. I was afraid he would be offended or that it would be perceived in a manner that I did not intend. My fears were proved false when he called to tell me that it nearly brought him to tears. He told me that after reading my thoughts, he finally feels like he can talk to me about his experience, he finally sees that I get it and that soldiers really can relate to one another even when their missions are different, their experiences are very much the same.

I feel like maybe now we can find out "normal" again.

The medic and I laughed about what our mission will be like and we laughed about how much fun the group of soldiers will be to deploy with, but at the end of the night it was just the two of us standing in an empty parking lot talking about much more serious deployment thoughts that surely must plague us all, even though most will never admit to them.

The long and short of it boils down to something very simple which only needs a brief explanation.

When my husband was deployed, both of my sisters were as well. While he did not write but one time when he was gone, my sisters provided regular stories of their experiences and thoughts while they were over there. i recall a special email from my oldest sister when she was in Kuwait that discussed the simple things she was learning. Things like appreciating a sunrise in Kuwait and realizing that she can live without television. That a simple life could be a good life as long as you are surrounded by good people and have a good attitude and hope that all bad will pass and make you a better person in the end.

I too have a list of items running through my head and most of them are also running through the medic's head as we prepare to take on this deployment. Our parking lot conversation didn't consist of the fun day and the great people, it consisted of our fears of what the future might bring.

While I am excited for this experience and I know it will be positive in the end, I have many fears that I am sure countless other soldiers have as well when facing their opportunity to go to war. I am afraid that I might never come home. I am afraid of seeing things that most people will never see and I am afraid of how they will affect me and how the memories will stay with me forever. I am afraid of losing friends over there and I am equally as afraid that I will lose friends at home for different reasons. I am afraid of injury, both to me and to others.

I am afraid that my husband and I will again struggle to find the "normal" that we only just found again.

To be perfectly honest, I am afraid to write this blog in general. It's not the fear that I will violate OPSEC by discussing things I shouldn't, but it is the fear of knowing that I am affording others the opportunity to know my thoughts, which often may seem irrational like knee-jerk reactions to something that cannot be controlled. I am afraid people may think less of me when they see how I view things.

But most of all I am afraid of coming home a different person than I am today. I am afraid that the new person might not be a better one than I am right now and I do not want that.

I guess only time will tell in the end and that no matter what I and others may fear, the fact still remains that we have a mission to do and we will do it to the best of our ability and hopefully God will be with us and we will all come home safe and sound to our families where we will experience positive transitions back to the civilian life.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

My first post on deployment

I always believed that when I got the deployment call I would welcome the challenge and accept it with no reservations. After ten years in the Army Guard, the last few spent watching my family and friends leave for war, one would think that the call couldn’t have been a surprise. But, it was and it was not welcomed as I thought it would be. I was angry. I was angry to have to leave law school when I finally worked up the courage to start. I was angry to leave the best group of friends and colleagues I have ever encountered in my life.

It was somewhat easy to watch others leave, not easy in a cold sense, but easy is the comfort of it not being me. It was “easy” to live vicariously through family or friends serving over there. Now it’s my turn and it won’t be easy.

I was alerted for mobilization 28 June 2005. I was angry until today.

Someone once asked me to explain how a soldier could possibly be excited to deploy for war. How could a soldier want to fight for a cause that might not be politically correct? How could a soldier want to leave their family and put themselves in danger each and every day? As hard as I tried to find the right words to explain soldiers and this phenomenon, I couldn’t. I couldn’t make him see how soldiers feel or feel what soldiers see. The answer is simply stated, “If you have to ask why, you’ll never understand.”

I’ve been hanging around town with my law school classmates trying to have a good time before deploying. None of them are military and they all were able to return to classes this Fall as 2L’s to continue in their legal education. They will graduate with Juris Doctor degrees in Law only months after I return in 2007 and months before I will be able to begin my 2L education. Today, I am one-third lawyer; one year down, two to go, and now it’s going to take me four years to get it done.

Being here with my friends has actually become much harder than I expected it to be. I was looking for fun and parties, like last year, and good times together like we have had so many times before. What I found was awkwardness. I feel out of place. I feel out of place with my friends and it is not easy. As much as I belong to them, I am not one of them anymore. I won’t experience what they will this year, nor will they experience what I will. We will not share mutual stories or laugh about what happened during the day. It’s not easy and I was beginning to feel that I would be lost without them. That is until tonight.

I met a soldier today that will deploy with me on our upcoming mission to Afghanistan. He’s a young soldier, maybe 22 or 23. Today he found out that he will be deploying with our mission which means he will leave two months earlier than he previously was told.

Tonight I joined my law school friends at a local bar to socialize as we often do. I watched them drink beer and play games and listen to music just as we have always done. The difference is that I don’t talk much with them. I feel out of place and it is hard. I suppose we had been at the bar for a couple hours or so when I saw the young soldier I met today walk by. Jokingly, I tapped him and asked him what he was doing out so late when he had to be up so early. We began to talk about the day, the long Guard Drill day, the monotonous paperwork of the Army and we kept talking. He told me about calling his mother and telling her he will have to leave two months earlier than expected. He told me about how nervous he is to leave his family, about how he wishes he could just go now. He told me about how his family is crushed and he spends his energy comforting them when he really needs them to comfort him right now.

We talked about how we both love music and that we will find a way to get some guitars in country so we can make a band. We have already recruited another guitar player and a singer who are also deploying with us. We talked about dune buggies and 50-Cal machine guns and Blackhawk helicopter insertions to our radar tower sites. We talked about what our lives will be for at the least the next year and some odd months.

We talked for nearly thirty minutes.

I went back to my friends and we talked more about nothing with occasional boring law talk. I watched them drink beer while I made small talk with them. My best friend reminisced about once comparing me to his mother and predicted that many soldiers might look at me as their mother when I am over there. I laughed because it was funny when he first told me I was too much like his mother and it was still funny tonight.

A couple hours passed and that same young soldier passed me again, stopping to put his arm around me and talk again about the band. We laughed and joked about how hungover he will be at formation tomorrow morning, but it will have been well worth it for the fun he had tonight. And then he looked at me as serious as can be and said, “You know, you are going to take care of me like a mom over there.” I smiled, turned and asked my friend to come over from the group of law students. I asked the soldier to tell him what he just told me. He said, “You know, she and I are going to go over there together. She is going to be like my mom when I am there.” To which my friend gave him a high-five and replied that it was true, and I would be a good mom.

I was angry until tonight.

And if someone has to ask why soldiers do what they do, they will never understand. It’s not about the big mission, it’s not about the politics, it’s not even about the war. It’s about the soldiers you go with and the mission you have to complete so you and those soldiers can do their job and come home to their families. It’s about the guy next to you, nothing more and nothing less. And if you can’t understand that from this story, then you won’t ever understand it.

Hell, you might have to be a soldier to understand a soldier. I am a soldier and I truly understand it now. I am not angry anymore. I am sure I will be frustrated at times and unhappy because it will not always go well and it will be hard at times. I am scared of the unknown and afraid of what might happen, but I am ready and I am excited.

I met thirty-eight wonderful soldiers today that I will deploy with. They will be my co-workers and colleagues, my family and my life for the next eighteen months. I am honored to serve with them and to serve our country. I am looking forward to doing what so many will never understand.