England, Spain, The Netherlands, Afghanistan. These are the lands that I traveled in my short life courtesy of the United States Army.
I enlisted in the military when I was 17-years-old before I graduated high school. I boarded the bus at the Military Entrance Processing Station in New York City in 2003 and I havenâ€™t looked back since. I was active duty, so upon my completion of soldier training I was stationed in Germany. The experience was such an eye-opener for an 18-year-old. The farthest Iâ€™d ever been from home was an all-girls Quaker sleep-away summer camp in Vermont for four weeks when I was a pre-teen. Now I was in a different time zone, spending a different currency and living a totally different lifestyle. I didnâ€™t know how to handle it all at first and I was overwhelmed with being on my own. Then, the deployment orders came.
In 2005, I was deployed from Germany to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom. One year after getting used to living in one country, I had to travel to another continent into a combat zone for a year. It was truly a lot to take in, all before the age of 20.
But by grace, I made it through that deployment, changed my military occupation to work in public affairs, attended a prestigious Historically Black University and received my Bachelorâ€™s degree in broadcast journalism. I gained a wealth of knowledge and wisdom over the past four years since I left that war-stricken country of Afghanistan. But my work was not done, for upon the receipt of my degree on December 11, 2009, I reported back to active duty on December 13. I spent my final semester at school preparing for my next deployment, but you can never really fully prepare yourself for a transformation like temporary relocating to a combat zone.
I am currently stationed back in Afghanistan.Â I have been here five weeks, but it feels like five months because we work non-stop. My job in the Army is a broadcast journalist, but that is not my day-to-day job here. In my office, we coordinate transportation and movement for Afghan national and international reporters to embed with the military all over the eastern part of Afghanistan. We have people from small newspapers in France and Utah, to staff members of NBC, ABC and CNN coming through our office. We truly keep busy.
I have so much hope for Afghanistan. I will be here until the end of the year and I hope to see a lot of progress and changes, with the help of a transforming media. The local national reporters are very sincere, they ask a lot of questions and are willing to risk their lives to get the story to educate their community. I commend them for that and I will support them in any way I can. Iâ€™ll be checking in with the Parlouristas to give my view of life as a soldier stationed in a war zone. I hope you enjoy my worldview as much as I enjoy sharing.