I was 28 when I arrived in Afghanistan. I was a Private in the US Army. I was beginning my first and only 12 month tour as an Army Infantryman. At the time, I had no idea how much my life was about to change. All I’d ever known was what I’d learned in the States. All I was about to fight for was on the other side of the world. At first, you think it will be just a sense of adventure, danger, and perhaps a little experience. But it doesn’t take long for the War to find you. And before you know it, everything turns into horror and sadness.
Within the first three months, one man in my Platoon had his back broken in several different places by a roadside bomb. Another was paralyzed for the rest of his life when an enemy round tore through his spine. And two were forever silenced on the battlefield and would never return home. With nine months left to go, Morale was at an all time low.
It’s funny how your mind adjusts to events like these. The horror of War truly cannot be replicated or understood by those who have not experienced it. That is why most don’t understand some Soldiers’ reactions. Personally, in the first three months, I figured it would be hard but I would make it through. But after the events described above (and several others) the following six months is spent realizing that you most likely will not make it home. This comes as no surprise to me, but it might to you, that this is the easiest way to function. And if you make it to the last three months, that’s when you start the worrying all over again because you realize you might actually make it.
The terrible events of my first three months of deployment would not be my last. We lost more men along the way. Some were only slightly wounded, some much, much worse. And it’s harder and harder to deal with. But you can’t put the hate or fear on your face when you speak to the people back home. You must not. Believe it or not, this War is taxing on the families of Soldiers and the American Patriots in the States as well. We remain strong when we speak on the phone, or send an email. We speak nothing of the death. We speak nothing of the pain. We speak nothing of the fear. But it is there. Always.
It was in the middle six months of my assignment in Afghanistan that the packages started arriving. I received an array of things from them… letters, candy, toothpaste, floss, baby wipes, razors, food, socks, books, dvd’s. The list could go on and on. It was amazing. Netroots for the Troops was always there. If I couldn’t use it, I would pass it on to a Soldier who could. Or if another Soldier in my Platoon was not doing well, the package would go to them. Not only were the items sent to us an amazing help, but the more important support was the fact that they were sent to us at all. As I said before, the middle six months contains little hope of ever returning home. The packages were a reminder that our country knows about our fight. Every day, because of their support, I knew that if it was going to be my last day, I would be remembered and I would be honored.
The biggest news stories today are not about the War or the Soldiers. The War is still happening. It is not over. We are a nation at War and people are starting to forget. Netroots for the Troops understands this problem and is fighting for us back home while we fight our War across the world.
Some of us miss our significant other. Some of us miss the movie theater. Some of us miss driving our car. Some of us miss our favorite sports teams. All of us miss peace. Another thing thing that we all miss, the one thing that all these things have in common, is home. We miss our country. The term “a world away” never has more meaning than it does for a Soldier in a combat zone. In a war that has been going on for longer than any other in the history of the United States, we need you. We need to know that you are there waiting for us and that you are supporting us. We need to know that we are not forgotten. We are American Warriors. We are the front lines. But we are human. And when we receive this kind of support, it lets us know that we are not forgotten. That is possibly the strongest gift you could give us.
I would like to personally extend my deepest appreciation to this great organization for the things they do. They have had an amazing affect on me and my fellow Soldiers. We may have repeatedly been down, but we were never out. And you never let us forget that. Thank you.
Today an anonymous donor has pledged to match donations from this diary to Netroots for the Troops up to $500. You can go here to donate and help them keep doing what they do so well for those of us who are serving.