The Fine Art of Camouflage

When I found out Lauren, author of The Fine Art of Camouflage, had served on a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan I was intrigued. I served on a PRT in Afghanistan. And I didn’t know anyone personally who had deployed on a PRT besides the people I met on my own deployment. Sometimes you wonder if your own experience is just an anomaly. Or if others experience similar challenges and frustration and the resulting trauma after coming home from such a challenging experience. 

When you learn about the mission and focus of the PRT it seems like a fun adventure. A mission that people would be excited to get to deploy in such an interesting way. Getting to “change the hearts and minds” of a country might sound good on paper. But in reality, the hard work of helping to change a nation is a long term project. With often a lot more set backs and unforeseen challenges than anyone could imagine. Let alone a random service member pulled out of their unit to deploy with a team of people they have likely never met to go out and change a nation. 

The PRT on a whole was fraught with problems.

Something created for Iraq to help rebuild. Then brought to Afghanistan with hopes of utilizing a tool that had been at least somewhat effectively. But Afghanistan isn’t Iraq and mud huts are very different than concrete buildings. In The Fine Art of Camouflage, Lauren did such a good job of articulating her experience of anticipation and excitement to doubt and worry and eventually frustration and defeat. I had a similar experience in Afghanistan as a member of a PRT. And while my story was very different than hers because of both the timing, location, job focus and deploying with different people the themes and tones of The Fine Art of Camouflage are what I experienced. 

As someone who served on a PRT this book really resonated with my experience. I remember the hope of helping people and the discouragement, challenge and frustration that came through the month the deployment dragged on. Having served on the deployment the rotation after Lauren from winter to fall 2010. I had heard names and vague details of stories. Lauren added depth and meaning to those stories.

People who were assigned to the PRT mission faced many challenges.

I am so thankful for the bravely Lauren showed in telling her story with real depth and meaning. To be honest about the way the deployment made her feel and how she was able to get help after coming home. It has inspired me to continue the work of writing my own memoir. And while it is still a work in progress. The Fine Art of Camouflage reminded me how important it is to share my story not only for others to read but as part of my own healing journey. 

The Fine Art of Camouflage

Get your copy of The Fine Art of Camouflage today. You can also learn about Lauren’s story on Women of the Military podcast. There we talk about how our experiences connected and her journey to the military. 

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