Lauren Kay shared the challenge of deployment in her memoir The Fine Art of Camouflage. Lauren’s decision to join the military was inspired by her moms service during Desert Storm and the events of September 11th. Those two things led her to look into the military and she ended up gaining her commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program known as ROTC. She shares her experience of joining, serving and leaving the military this week on the Women of the Military podcast!
The Challenge of Deployment
Lauren served as a Public Affairs Officer and was stationed at Hurlburt Field in Florida. She was excited to deploy being at a special operations base and seeing people deploy regularly. She had been tasked to deploy a few times. But they hadn’t panned out. When she heard about the opportunity to deploy on a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) she was excited and volunteered.
Training in Indiana
She headed off to combat skills training. Excited about what was to come. She started to learn about the history and culture of Afghanistan. She also learned about her role. Not as a PA officer but as an Information Operation (IO) Officer. It was counter to what she had learned at PA school. And as the deployment continued it continued to eat away at her.
A PRT is a unique mission. Initially, they were created in Iraq to help with the reconstruction after the war. They worked semi successfully in helping to rebuild the nation. The idea was then overlayed in Afghanistan. The idea was that it would be able to help Afghans in a similar way. But Afghanistan and Iraq have very different. Both in cultures, technology and history. There was no rebuilding in Afghanistan. Add to that fact, the projects given to the PRTs were sometimes not practical for the remote villages that they were given. You can learn more about what a PRT is in a 5 part series where I highlighted my own experience on a PRT.
The Fine Art of Camouflage
In Lauren’s book she shares her experience of joining the military and the experience of being a member on a PRT. The book shares how she went from excited ready to make change to disenfranchised with the illusions pushed upon her through out the deployment. She then highlights the challenge of coming home. Then dealing with the emotional toil she hoped to leave in Afghanistan. While also not feeling worthy of being able to ask for help. You can check out my full review of her book on Thursday. For now, go listen to her interview on the Women of the Military podcast.