A little of THIS and a little of THAT

Initially I started this blog as a way of sharing my experiences overseas with those that were interested...however so much has happened over the last two years, including more travelling to foreign destinations, revelations of some kind or other, and experiences I thought others could learn from that I decided to mix it all up.

I hope that somewhere you'll find something that interests you and that you'll be able to learn from.

Friday, September 12, 2008

In Need of a Morale Boost

My whole time in Kandahar it was hard for me to feel emotion. My whole job depended on me to be happy, and boost morale. There was no time for me to feel lonely, sad, angry, or helpless. Although I was a retail attendant, my position required me to do more than just stocking shelves, ring things through the cash or the other listed requirements. I was there for morale and support to all the soldiers and civilians that were housed or came into KAF. I was good at my job; make that great at my job. I along with a couple other true handfuls could always it come up with ideas that would go above and beyond the regular daily moral boost.

Most times it was easy to be happy, put on my smile or a fake front no wonder what was going on in KAF or at home. I even managed to do it during the hardest times in KAF when it was the most important for us to bring morale to a new high. Ramp ceremonies were no doubt the toughest part of being overseas. Missing my family was manageable through letters, pictures, emails and phone calls, but ramp ceremonies meant that we lost someone that we were there to serve; it meant that someone who was there to serve their nation, our nation, had been killed. They didn’t just die, but rather had been taken from us. We knew that they would want us to go on, to remember them yes, not mourn for them, but continue on with the mission, continue to serve and do our job going above and beyond what our expectations and requirements were. I always came through in this, even after Shawn’s ramp, I was able to pull my composure together and open the store with a smile on my face.

In doing my job and putting my feelings aside it was sometimes hard to feel what I truly wanted in that moment. I could no longer cry when I felt hurt or sad and I became cold and emotionless in moments that would normally make me shed tears. I was in essence a wall at times. I became scared that when I went home that this wall would become permanent, or at the least very hard to break.

A week after I got home I got a tattoo to commemorate the soldiers and friends we knew that died or had been killed overseas, and also to commemorate the soldiers that had been killed during the six months I was overseas. The thought to me was emotive, and I had anticipated to weep the moment I seen the finished product, instead though I was happy, if even that. I realized in this moment that my wall had yet to be chipped away, I was fundamentally in that bubble I hear so much about.

After two weeks of being home, it is a hard-hitting day. It has now come to my sudden attention that I am not on vacation; I am not going back to Afghanistan to continue the job I did with such attention to detail and with such passion.

It is also September 11, the reason we are in Afghanistan right now fighting the “war on terrorism”. It is this war that has killed so many of our young troops, and it is today that our Prime Minister has announced that he is promising to “not extend the mission in the Afghan region past 2011”. It is to me and many soldiers a job that is unfinished in the Afghan region. The 97 soldiers that have been killed since the war started will have died in vain if our work goes unfinished, and the territory in Afghanistan cannot thrive before it is time to on its own.

Nearly a month after Shawn was killed in Afghanistan, and two weeks after my return home, I have mustered up the courage to try and get a hold of Shawn’s wife, my friend Lisa. I’ve been putting this off for lack of words to say to her. I fear that even when she does talk to me, she won’t want to because her husband and I came from the same place and even though had very different jobs; I am here, back in Canada, safe and sound whereas he is not.

It is today that I wish I could curl up in my husband’s arms, lie on his chest and cry. For today along with everything that is going on inside my head and inside my heart, I am missing my family, especially my kids, and it is today that I have found my emotions again. It is today that I am in need of a morale boost.

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