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Military Leave – More Than Rest and Relaxation

Time sure does fly.  Just a short two weeks ago, I touched American soil to enjoy a little R&R.

However, rest and relaxation were the last objectives on my vacation. I’d jetsetted all over the country for the past 15 days. I started my leave in San Diego, where I attended the National Association of Black Journalists Convention. I networked with numerous talented and successful people in the industry and even educated the civilian workforce on the work that the military public affairs professionals do in the combat zone.

After San Diego, I hit the road and drove to Los Angeles.  I was so tired of flying I just wanted to experience the infamous Interstate 405 and absorb the California atmosphere. I met with alumni from my university, attended the L.A. premiere for Takers starring Idris Elba, visited the set of America’s Got Talent, and saw enough celebrities for a TMZ episode. After that Hollywood experience, I’m itching to go back.  Even though I was living on an average of three hours sleep every night, I was so happy to be back that I almost forgot where I was sleeping only a week prior — Afghanistan of course.

During my leave from the army, I also got the chance to celebrate my birthday at home and since I had some money I went all out. After L.A., I hopped a plane Sin City, better known as Las Vegas. I didn’t spend much time in the casinos, which was a good thing, but I invested my hard earned money in partying, dining and enjoying my friends. One night, while looking down on the Vegas Strip from my hotel suite, it all felt surreal.  It was hard to believe that I wasn’t restricted to the one road on my base in Afghanistan.  The reality of the place I would be returning to in a few days revealed itself as I looked on the mountains in Nevada that were reminiscent of the mountains I have grown accustomed to seeing every morning as I start my day.

As much I enjoyed my stay on the West Coast, I had to spend some time on the east coast with my friends and family before I returned to the war front. I tried to do what some spread over a two-month summer season… in two weeks.

I must admit though, as much fun as I had on leave, I’m ready to go back to Afghanistan. I am exhausted from trying to be in 12 places at one time to see as many people and do as many things as I could my limited amount of time. I feel accomplished but burnt out.  Now, I am back in uniform and preparing for my departure flight back to the combat zone. This leave opened to my eyes to what I am thankful for in life and what I have to look forward to upon my return. Leaving my family again was very difficult because I tell them ‘goodbye’ more in the past seven years than I say ‘hello.’ I try to keep a positive attitude and be strong for my family. I know in a few months I will be back home for good and ready to embrace my loved ones.

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