by Maggie DeMay
It’s October again.
Fall is in the air. My birthday’s coming up.
So are the memories…
by Dean Ray
My heart was pounding as the orders came through my helmet’s headset. I knew the blast earlier was a rocket propelled grenade, and not a signal flare like I had considered. Leaning out of the left side of the helicopter, my bulky, bulletproof flight vest banged clumsily on my massive black chainsaw of a machine gun. I tried to get a closer look at who just tried to blow us out of the sky, while simultaneously listening to the frantic transmissions coming through the radio.
by Brittany Schick
Standing at parade rest in the dark Afghan night, watching the spotlight illuminate the colors at half mast slowly waving with the breeze… It wasn’t the hundreds of camouflage-clad souls standing around me to pay their respects to their fallen comrade that choked me up, or the roll-call of his name followed by eerie silence, or the bugler’s perfect tribute through taps. No, it was when they read that he was born in 1989… 1989. I have a baby brother who was born in 1989. 1989 wasn’t really that long ago… It wasn’t nearly enough life for this young man to have lived. It was 23 short years, 5 of which he had spent in the service of his nation. What if he had been MY little brother? MY smiling blue-eyed baby brother with the curly brown hair and the pudgy little hands; the one who had started out as a little guy talking with a lisp and smiling with a cute under bite, who was now a man, standing much taller than me, and smiling with the confidence of youth. What if HE were gone forever, killed on foreign soil in the dark of the night fighting insurgents? I saw the feeds — I watched this other man, someone else’s brother, get gunned down…and now I was standing at attention with hundreds of others, others who didn’t really know the full story. But did it matter how it happened? Did it matter how he had died that night, thousands of miles away from all those who would have wanted to be at his side? No, not really. What matters to his wife, mother, father, and brothers — biological and those in-arms — is that he is gone.
Brittany Schick deployed to Bagram AB in 2012 as a Captain in the USAF. She is currently stationed in Haiti as a Foreign Service Officer with her husband and daughter.
by Jason McDowell
When you think about the 4th of July, you’d expect it to have some significance for military service members. This holiday celebrates the founding of our country and the freedoms that we still fight for today. I was recently asked by a friend if veterans viewed this holiday any differently, and my immediate reaction was something like this: Yes! America! Freedom! Pass me a hot dog! QUIT HOGGING THE SPARKLERS!
by Ashley Bohn
On May 21, 2009 I woke up, put on my uniform, grabbed my weapon and made my short trek to the hospital. It was the same routine I had kept every day for 6 months as a surgical tech in the United States Army. I was attached to a combat support hospital called Ibn Sina, an Iraqi-built, American-run hospital in Baghdad, Iraq. I spent most of the morning taking inventory in the 3rd floor operating room and launching myself down our long hallway on a rolling stool. Around 11 a.m we, the operating room, got a call from the emergency room downstairs. When the OR nurse answered the phone, the look on her face told me all I needed to know: it was time to get ready.
by Lisa Wright
With all the information finally being put out there through media for all Americans to see, I felt this was the time I could finally open up to the world and share my story. I’d like it to be known that it’s not just numbers but real men and women that are becoming victims of military sexual trauma.
I was called to deploy in 2005 after I had gone through much military training, and I met with an already deployed unit in Iraq. It was a unit of strangers I hadn’t met before, but the camaraderie was unmistakable. They took me in as if I was always a member of their unit. I had a decent deployment, beyond the fact that I was nineteen and away from familiarity, as well as being subjected to live mortar attacks. I came home with mild anxiety and depression but it quickly crept up on me.
by Kristine Otero
Would you take a bullet for me? It really is this simple. It really is this black and white. It should not be, it is irrational, it is likely not fair, but it is how my PTSD brain operates in that it can concurrently catastrophize and oversimplify. Obviously, I would never ask someone this question, it is bizarre and does not make sense in the civilian mind. Until recently, I did not understand why I could not relate to my family, why I felt no emotional attachment to them. It was after the ten thousandth conversation in which I was berated for being cold and detached that I really sat down to think. The result may not be pretty, it may not be conducive to what many deem healthy relationships, but in its simplest form, this is the question I ask myself that allows me to allow others in. So, would you take a bullet for me? Read more
by David Tanis
Southwestern Oklahoma is an arid land of rolling hills, scrub brush, and grasses, quite different from the topography of suburban Northern New Jersey that I had been used to. Instead of crowded homes, packed close together, with all sorts of lush vegetation, from the omnipresent Norway maples, to fancy lawn shrubs crowding each inch of property, the sparse grasses and bushes of the desert-like landscape provide grazing lands as well as cover for the antelope, bison, long horn cattle, and mule deer which proliferate. For me, Oklahoma was like a new world as I reported in to the replacement company that December in 1963, a couple of weeks early, before my Artillery Officer Candidate School Course at Fort Sill was scheduled to begin. Unassigned, after the mandatory roll call I wandered about like a lost child.