I'm in Afghanistan. I am living on a base in an active warzone working with the troops. I know this, I have known this, but I haven't really understood the implications of this until today.
Ten soldiers were involved in an IED explosion a couple days ago, and they just arrived at our base. They have the clothes on their backs and that's pretty much it. They came into the center and one couldn't even hear, because he's still deaf from the explosion. I know some of the "regulars" at the center are Wounded Warriors, but it's just a little different when I can immediately see the effects. One particular regular who always has a smiling face told me that the unit with the 10 wounded was his unit that he was supposed to be with, but he got heatstroke and fell and his hurt his shoulder a couple weeks ago so he wasn't with them. A regular that I know his name, I know his kid's name, I know his favorite game on the PS3, could've been blown up. It's just more real now. They are not blurbs on the news, they're not numbers, each single troop has a name, and I know some of them.
I'm not using their names in this blog, because I don't think it would be appropriate, but I know them, I see them everyday. Some of them are here because they survived someone trying to blow them up. It's just all starting to register. One regular is leaving us soon to go back out to his FOB (forward operating base). I knew he was "blown up" as well, but I never noticed until today when he turned around his wicked huge scar on the back of his head. Another volunteer today told me the reason he is here is because his vehicle rolled over and he had to get staples in his head, but luckily the IED they landed on didn't explode.
These men and women are my age or younger. They have wives, husbands, kids, friends. They're just like me and you, they love to get on Facebook, they are sarcastic, they love when we have strawberry poptarts. This is real, it's going on right now whether it's in your face everyday or not. This war has been going on for 9 years. I just think we could all use a reminder that there are men and women out there fighting. Whether you agree or disagree with why they are here, they are. We need to support them with our time (volunteer to make care packages), our donations (to the USO or Wounded Warrior programs), and our prayers and thoughts (of whatever religion or nonreligion you practice). 1.5 % of the US population is fighting, so the other 98.5% can not think about the fighting.
I'm doing well. I love my job. I love what I do. I've never felt this immense sense of purpose before. I can do something as simple as fill the coffee maker, but to a troop in Afghanistan it can smell like home and just for a second I helped them get through another tough day. My reality check tonight just makes me all the more dedicated to our mission: A Home Away from Home, Until Everyone Comes Home.