I always thought going to Afghanistan would be my hardest life experience. Here is the story of my military transition to civilian life.
I went to college after high school because that is what everyone does (right?) at least that’s what all my friends were doing. For me, going to college was what I had to do, I really had no goals set or a purpose. I was an athlete and good at math so I was running cross country and track and majoring in mathematics. My parents jokingly suggested I join the military. I assured them that would never happen.
Somehow I got tied into a group of friends and a few were enlisting and one had dreams of being an officer. So what the heck I decided maybe I should join the military too. I didn’t know anything about the military. So at first, I was going to enlist, but the more I learned about it the more I realized that the officer path was probably a better fit for me. Not because I saw myself as a leader, but because I could continue with school and graduate. You know, try out the military thing and then go on with life.
I joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps program, which is a military program that trains you to become an officer while you are still attending college. I immediately found something I had never had before. Maybe it was the friends or the sense of belonging, but truthfully it was like finding my purpose for life. I was terrified and excited.
Anyway, life progressed, and all through the military training the fact that I would likely deploy someday scared the crap out of me. I was pretty optimistic that it wouldn’t be too bad because I joining the AF and those deployments are not very dangerous, but there was a possibility for doing a joint mission where I deployed with the Army, but that wasn’t going to happen to me. No way!
Fast forward to the day I found out, not only was I deploying, but this deployment was with the Army and would have me off the safety of a base and interacting with people on the ground in Afghanistan.
I went to training and then finally landed in Afghanistan. To say my deployment was an adventure would be an understatement. I got to do some amazing things and see so much of the Afghan culture that few people get to see. I was pretty proud of my accomplishments as I headed home with a bronze star, a combat action badge, and the announcement that I would be promoted to the next rank a few months after going home.
The transition back to normal life was relatively easy and life seemed to be going on an upward spiral.
A Change From Military Life
My husband and I decided it was time to expand our family. Way more quickly than I expected we were pregnant. From the moment I found out we were pregnant I saw a countdown clock. Just like the one I used in Afghanistan to count down the days’ home. But this clock was a countdown to the end of my current life and a change to something new. We had also decided it was a good time for me to leave the military and stay at home. I wasn’t really sure what was coming and I wasn’t sure if I was ready.