What was it like to deploy to Iraq as the war kicked off? Laura was the first wave of the invasion after the Marines. She talked about the whole experience in her book Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up which is based on the journal she kept while deployed overseas.
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Laura served in the Army National Guard from March 2001-2009 as a military police officer. She was activated to active duty and deployed to Baghdad, Iraq from March 2003-July 2004. In 2019, Laura published her memoir, Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up, which is an alarming memoir of combat and coming back home.
She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from UW-Madison. Moved to England to teach Physical education in Aylesbury. Then moved to Fargo, ND to work with individuals who have Special Needs as an Activities Director. She worked as a Physical Education Teacher and Dean of Students at Madison West High School from 2008-2017. Then she received a master’s in Educational Leadership through Cardinal Stritch in 2011 and a master’s in Experimental Education from UW-LaCrosse in 2012. She has been an administrator at Waupaca Middle School since the fall of 2017.
Army National Guard
In this interview we covered Laura joining the National Guard in March of 2001. She was going to college so she was part of a program where she went to boot camp in the summer. She had completed boot camp and was drilling on weekends in the National Guard when September 11th happened. Laura continued to go to school and then was sent to her military police officer training the summer of 2002. By the end of Jan 2003, her unit was informed she would be activated to active duty and deploy to Iraq. We talked about the challenge of having to quit school for a year and a half and deploying to Iraq.
They were the first wave after the Marines. And initially, the Iraqis were happy for the American liberation force, but after six months the Iraqis feelings toward the Americans changed and it became a lot more dangerous with mortar attacks, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and ambushes. One of the hardest weeks of her deployment was the week a fellow soldier died and they also were told they were being extended, after being less than two weeks away from coming home.
Panic Attacks and PTSD
Laura came home and felt lucky to have been unscathed. But a year later at Sgt School during a simulated war game she started to have panic attacks and although she was able to finish and graduate Sgt School she continued to struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We talked about how PTSD makes us feel and how she still has moments when she struggles today. She wants to talk about her story through her book and giving presentations at the school to help people know about what people have done for our country.
A Piece of Advice
When she was asked what advice she would give young women about joining the military she said, it has to be a decision you make for yourself. The military isn’t for everyone. And although there are some good parts of the military, you need to be 100% committed if you sign up to serve.
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