This is a self-improvement post. See all here: https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/self-improvement/
It’s a bit unusual in that I’ve volunteered to go overseas to a war zone twice. Not entirely sure why I did, although it probably has something to do with a macho mindset. There was certainly never a desire to kill anyone, or get revenge on terrorists or anything like that, but rather just a sense to test myself, see if I can handle stressful situations, etc. There was maybe some sense of patriotism, and that volunteering was part of my job. It did change me quite a bit, but more on that later.
The first time I went I was a pretty junior officer, in my mid-20s, and got to go in a liaison position. That was nice, but it pretty much meant I was leaving my unit and deploying essentially by myself to support a unit in theater. The location was safe, but I did get to forward deploy a few times to Afghanistan, which I had volunteered for. That resulted in some exciting moments, got mortared a few times, felt a car bomb go off, got woken up in the middle of the night by an apache helicopter firing at insurgents. Also got to ride in some helicopters and visit a very forward base, interact briefly with the Afghan locals. I saw our troops looking forward to going home.
Also got to experience the never ending groundhog day of deployment. Worked every day, which made you lose track of time. But it was kind of nice in a way, you could just focus on work, and really sink yourself into it. Also food was good and what downtime I had I worked out, so I was in pretty good fitness by the end. Trick is just to get into a good routine.
I did leave a girl behind that I had been casually dating. I had wanted to stay in touch, although a few months in found out via facebook she started a relationship with someone else. It was a distinctive gut punch feeling, but I suppose that’s what happens.
It lasted 6 months then I went home. When I left I had felt good about my service and that I made a difference.