What is it like to experience losing a team member while deployed? Stacie opened up and shared about the loss of four members on her Panjshir PRT in 2009. We also covered the topics of PTSD, mental health, and moving forward.
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Losing a team member while deployed
Stacie’s dad saw a flyer about ROTC and that is how she began her military career. She needed a way to pay for college and ROTC gave her that opportunity. She said it was the best decision she ever made. And she made a lot of great friends. She picked the career field of Pubic Affairs because of her degree in Journalism. She started her career by being a Gold Bar recruiter at the Academy. Telling others about the opportunity to join the military through ROTC.
She attended Defense Information School (DINFOS) in Fort Mead, Maryland, and got her first opportunity to learn about the joint environment since all the military branches have their PA training at DINFOS.
She deployed multiple times. Serving a year in South Korea, working with NATO in Italy, and multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of the interview was focused on her deployment to Afghanistan as part of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). I also deployed as part of a PRT so we talked about the difference between her pre-deployment training and my own.
Losing team members
Panjshir was a relatively safe deployment. They could ride around in regular vehicles, but always wore their protective gear and had weapons. But they would need to make trips back to Bagram (the main base in Northern Afghanistan) to gather supplies, mail, and get people out for R&R. On May 26, 2009, four members of her team were killed when in a suicide bomber attacked the convoy. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Stratton, PRT commander, Army Master Sgt. Blue Rowe, PRT first sergeant, Senior Airman Ashton Goodman, PRT vehicle operator, and Abdul Samad, PRT Afghan legal advisor were killed in the attack.
Stacie had worked directly with Ashton both through the Women Affairs missions and helping her to get her work published. She also was the only woman officer on the team and that gave her the responsibility and the honor to pack up her things and send them home to her family. The event has had a major impact on her life and she has started a scholarship in Ashton’s name for her high school.
The effects of war
We also coved the PTSD caused not only by the PRT deployment but the other deployments. If you are struggling with any mental health issues or need someone to talk to check out Episode 137 with the Cohen Clinic which talks about resources to help those struggling through mental health challenges.
Mentioned in this Episode:
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