Most of us, maybe all of us, look forward to the future, to going home. Like a 16 year old waiting to turn 18, or a 19 year old waiting to turn 21, we wait and hope and dream about some time in the future. For us, that future event is completing this deployment and heading home.
So, what do we look forward to? Mostly, just going home and doing the simple things, but also to grand vacations and life changing events. Simple things like driving a car are always exciting after being deployed. If we drove at home like we drive here we would get arrested! But just the freedom to drive, when and where we want, it exhilarating.
And of course, there’s plenty of time to plan grand vacations and exciting adventures. Vacations to exotic lands, marriage, divorce, new jobs and new lives are all things I know people are planning for and dreaming of while they are here.
In our hospital we have Soldiers and Airmen who are here for a variety of tour lengths; 90 days, 120 days, 180 days, 365 days and even some for 15 months. It makes for quite a diverse work environment. Some are planning to go home while others are not even half-way through their tour! We bond quickly, and separate painfully, and then the cycle begins again.
By the time I finish this deployment I will have worked with four different USAF rotations and four different USAR rotations, plus all the individuals who backfill during R&R leave. In all, after 12 months here with my 45-man hospital I will have worked with over 100 different individual staff members! That’s a lot of turnover in just 12 months. That’s a lot of dreams and future plans.
And why do we focus on the future? Well, the present is either boring or tragic. Boring, because we’ve seen every inch of the FOB and every route between here and wherever we need to go off the FOB. Because we’ve solved the same problems three time since we’ve been here, and we’ll solve it three more times before we leave. Tragic, because we’ve become immune to the blood and pain and death we see every day. Because we wonder if we will ever be the same after this experience and we wonder if anyone will understand when we cry or laugh or just sit quietly, alone and silent with our thoughts and memories.
So, the future becomes a wonderful dream, because it is a future away from here. The future becomes a time to fulfill dreams and live life to the fullest, thankful every day for having survived this ordeal, and yet always feeling slightly guilty for having survived this ordeal when others did not.
And for me, my future is bright. My future is my family and my life with them. No big plans, just a slow, controlled reintegration back in to my family.
One day I will be back with my wife, who supported me for a year in Iraq and is now supporting me during this tour in Afghanistan.
I will be back with my daughter, Beckie, the Grand Champion FFA sheep girl at Heritage High School.
And I’ll be back with my daughter, Katie, the future pilot and honorary Red Hat Society member.
And I’ll be able to see my son, Jeremy, the college student and all-around good guy.
Thank you for reading and caring and praying. I’ll keep blogging, even when there’s nothing new to say. I’ll keep blogging so you can stay connected to what your Soldiers, your children, your friends and loved ones are experiencing here at FOB Salerno, and wherever they are deployed.