Remembering deployment


For Veterans’ Day weekend, I look back to some of my deployments. Each has been different: Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. There was good and bad in each one. But the one thing that was consistent with them all has been the bonds that were built with my fellow Soldiers, many who are still my friends today.

Here is a glimpse at my Iraq deployment and my fellow public affairs Soldiers. I took some of the pictures in the video and am in a few too. And, the broadcaster who put the video together, is still my friend today. I am so glad she produced this video so I can look back on the experiences we all had during the first Iraqi election in 2005-2006.

So enjoy this behind the scenes look at our lives then, our mission and some of the wacky things we did to remain sane.

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For all those veterans out there.

Looking back on service


In my efforts to start back on a blogging schedule and search the vast corners of the earth for more words that move me, I am going to start a Wednesday Word.

I will post a word, quote, phrase or who knows what else that moves me, inspires me, enrages me or more. I may comment on it. Or perhaps I will not. Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic too.

So here goes, the Wednesday Word is: service

 

As Veterans Day approaches, I think of service. I think of all the time I spent away from my family and friends in other countries. I think of the dusty landscapes, lonely months and endless hard work.

I had it easy for the most part. Yeah, there were some occasional mortars landing here and there, and a few scary convoys/patrols,  but a majority of the time, I had “good” deployments. Of course, I contribute my experiences to my job. I LOVED it.

I traveled around the war zones telling stories about what other service members were doing. I wrote stories and took pictures that detailed these service members’ experiences and missions. I remember on my first deployment (Bosnia 2002), I was passing out the magazine we had created. It had one of my photographs on the cover, and I happened to run into the Soldier I had photographed while distributing the magazine around the compound. He smiled so big to see himself on the cover. He grabbed up a few copies and excitedly said he could not wait to show his family.

In that moment, I fell in love with my job. I had made at least one person, and presumably his family, happy and proud of of his service. I validated his time away. I made him realize his contribution had value.

Everyone wants to feel important and noticed. And everyone wants to feel like their work matters. So that has been, and continues to be my goal: share the stories of America’s sons and daughters who volunteer to serve. They are from all cultures, races, religions and sexes. They do everything from engineering to medicine. They are active duty, National Guard and Reserve. They are America’s fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.

From the past to the present, Soldiers are citizens who chose the Army as their profession.  And even once they retire, they will always be a Soldier at heart. I just hope the ones who I have had the pleasure of covering over the years, never forget that they made a difference.

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Wednesday’s Word: Destruction


In my efforts to start back on a blogging schedule and search the vast corners of the earth for more words that move me, I am going to start a Wednesday Word.

I will post a word, quote, phrase or who knows what else that moves me, inspires me, enrages me or more. I may comment on it. Or perhaps I will not. Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic too.

So here goes, the Wednesday Word is: Destruction

Recently, I started a military leadership class. It involves a great deal of reading, and then, some more reading. There are lessons on leadership, tactics, strategic thinking and history. Surprisingly, the history lessons seem to be interesting me the most.

I find this odd as I have never really been a history buff. However, as I age, I have come to discover it is not as boring as I had once believed.

I think it started with some historical fiction books by Phillipa Gregory that I read a couple of years ago. I read an entire series on a few kings and queens of England. Of course, I realize the stories are fiction but they intrigued me enough to start seeing what main events were reported to be true that the author had based her stories around. It became quite fascinating…and scandalous.

Time progressed, and I started watching some documentaries and historical fiction television shows. I started looking up even more events. As I found out more, I started to wonder if it was just human nature to destroy things, including themselves.

Then, I started this military class, and according to historical records, humans seem pretty hellbent on destroying others and things. Dating back to the B.C. era, people of all races, religions and cultures have sought power, righteousness or money. To get it, history has shown they will stop nothing. One of my history books stated that one group of people were  extremely “successful” in terms of military tactics. Well, that is if you consider mass murders of entire cities as success.

”’the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, both young and old, and ox and sheep and ass with the edge of the sword.”   — The Cambridge History of Warfare pg 16 as it states the familiar Biblical account of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho.

Think about our history. Brothers have tried to kill their own family members for the crown. The Germans tried to obliterate the Jews. Bosnia suffered ethnic cleansing, as other countries did as well. It goes on and on.

Generation after generation, somewhere in the world there has been, and continues to be, a batch of evil doers set on destruction for reasons of greed, religion or power.

On the other hand, when we are not trying to kill others, us humans are pretty good at destroying ourselves. Our tools of destruction may be less noticeable than genocide or war, but they obtain results on a smaller scale nonetheless.

Individually, we destroy ourselves through poor eating and exercising habits; smoking, drinking or injecting a multitude of drugs, alcohol or chemicals known to be bad for us. We stress ourselves out to the point of immobility and inaction. We doubt ourselves so much we create a self fulfilling prophecy of unmet goals.

As I learn more, I am shocked that all this destruction. To my knowledge, there doesn’t appear to be any race, religion, culture or ethnic group who has not had some historical event with evil, destruction or war. (To those who are indeed perfect since the dawning of time, I apologize. ) It seems to have effected us all at one point, and continues to plague the world even today.

Today’s world is full of anger, bigotry, sexism, racism, judgement…We are divided on politics. We argue about the use of bathrooms. We try to ban people from serving their countries based on their personal life. We are more upset when people take a knee during the anthem than we are when we are told outright national-level lies. We refuse to acknowledge scientific facts, trends and similarities to history. We are emboldened to push our personal agendas on each other in this me-first era.

Frankly, it is all mental exhausting. I don’t pretend know the answers. I only know the questions and attempt to see all the viewpoints. In most things, I can understand and empathize the various points of view. So I don’t have a dang clue on how to solve the world’s problems. Heck, I can’t even solve my  own I-need-to-lose-15-pounds problem.

But hey, according to history, after we all destroy each other and ourselves, there will be another several generations behind us to relive all the same or similar issues (with some minor adjustments for the change in times). Well, there should be anyway providing we don’t create any population- or world-ending kind of problems…we just might be doomed this time.

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My random thoughts on history and how we seem to repeat it, but with even more flair.