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Soldier Girl – Home and Away

Greetings again Parlouristas from the mountains of Afghanistan.  My main job here is bringing Afghan media on our U.S. military base, where I am stationed, to cover stories so that they can return to their respective communities and spread the news via Internet, television news and newspapers.  These past few weeks have been an example of our program hard at work.

One day, we had a freelance reporter working on a documentary visit the base hospital and interview Afghan patients and their family members about their treatment.  Then three days later, I traveled with about a dozen Afghan local media representatives to a French Army Forward Operating Base to attend an event there. It was fun practicing my French — all I know how to say is “Bonjour” and “Merci” — and Dari language skills and seeing the interaction between communication experts from three different countries working together.  Then only two days later, Afghan National Army (ANA) doctors graduated from a trauma mentorship program conducted at the base hospital.  The Afghan officers accepted their certificates with pride and spoke of using their training to save the lives of their army’s troops as well as the civilians in the community.  When we visited some of the patients that were treated by the ANA doctors, I met an elderly man and his son.  The young man was by his father’s bedside providing support.  This made me think of my own father, who is currently in the hospital after having emergency surgery on his colon.

When I called him back in the States, he told me of the good works the doctors and the nurses have been doing to help him with the healing process and follow up treatment.  It hurts being his only child and not being there for him to get whatever he needs or ask the doctor’s a hundred questions based on what I read on Google results about his condition.  But I know he is in good care and that makes me sleep well. It’s the same feeling of comfort I had seeing the ANA doctors interacting with the elderly man. And the son had a facial expression of ease and hopefulness.

That’s what the U.S. forces want to see happen, Afghans taking care of Afghans. The best part is that the local media is witnessing this and capturing it and taking it to the radio airwaves and TV screens and black and white print.  That’s why I think my job is so valid and important nine years into the U.S. presence in this nation. Now we are showing the rebuilding and the transformation of the country and want the public to see that.  We can’t bring them all on base, so our media guests can see what the public can’t.  That’s a rewarding feeling… bringing awareness to the Afghan people about what U.S. and coalition forces from other countries are doing here to improve the lives of the permanent residents here.

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