- Posted February 5, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The war through your eyes: Iraq 10 years on
Student to Soldier
So, after a full semester away from home and a little more independent I decided to join the National Guard. I could go to college and join the military - and some of my college would be paid for to boot!
I returned home from Basic Training in August of 2011 - a few weeks later 9/11 happened.
My Mom called crying - convinced I was, at that moment, strapping on my rucksack and heading out of my dorm room. I explained that I had additional training to complete and that I could not be deployed for at least a year.
Then, in the fall of 2003, my senior year of college, I noticed some changes in our drill weekends. We were getting newer equipment. We were getting up to date shots and ID tags...ok, now my Mom can start to worry - I think we're getting deployed.
We got the call in early November. We'd be gone by Christmas and in Iraq the first part of 2004.
My year in Iraq was such a learning and growing experience for me. It was some of the hardest experiences I've faced and some of the most rewarding as well. I am actually thankful for my year "studying abroad" as I say.
I was part of a medical battalion - in a smaller unit in the headquarters platoon. I was a communication specialist that then turned into being responsible for anything you could plug in. I radioed in helicopters to evacuate seriously injured troops and Iraqis alike, I set up large antennas, I networked computers, I joined a church choir, I learned how to scratch someone's back to get mine scratched back, I learned how to splice cable for phones (and then to take them off the hook before you started so you wouldn't get zapped), I became a runner, and I did a little soul searching.
People are surprised when I tell them that I - not so much enjoyed - but appreciated my time in Iraq. It allowed me to escape my life - put it on hold - and really figure out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.
When I got home, I had a new perspective. I had gone through experiences that I never thought I would come out alive so, stress didn't really exist anymore. I would always think, well, no one is shooting, I am not going to die today - things I couldn't always say in Iraq, so really, what's the use in getting stressed out?
I started school back up, changed my major and completed it my first year back. I wanted to finish the goal I started back in 2000 - get my college degree. And, in May 2006 I completed that goal - and in March 2009 I completed my other goal I started my freshman year - completed my contract with the National Guard - now a college grad and Combat Veteran.