This is a land of vast differences – rugged terrain and tenuous beauty, all surrounding a fragile hope for the future. We came to make it a better place for the people who live here, to give them a sense of the world around them and let them know that there is more to life than just survival, that with hard work and determination (and maybe a bit of luck) anything is truly possible.
Sometimes it’s easy to lose perspective of that sense of possibility, of adventure and excitement ourselves. We get caught up in the day to day routine of our lives and forget or don’t have enough time to dream or imagine a better future for ourselves. In other cases, we have to put dreams behind us in order to be adults, get jobs that pay the bills rather than fulfill us and do what we need to in order to get by.
The possibilities that exist for us are still there, but often life gets in the way. To me, one of the benefits of being deployed is it takes you out of your life, strips everything away and gives you something that we don’t always have at home – time. Time to think about what we want, what we’re doing and where we’d like to go. You think about what you really miss, what you’d really like to do when you get home and the things that are important to you. The last time I was in Afghanistan, I started thinking about families and how much I really did want one of my own. There is huge emphasis on families here; they will do just about anything for their families and unfortunately that is why some of them turn to the Taliban, to get the money they need to feed their family or help them survive.
I find that as I work to tell the story of the work the we are doing to create a stable, peaceful Afghanistan and through all that the U.S. and our NATO partners are doing to give hope to the Afghans, all we are doing to be optimistic and enthusiastic about their future, that I’m just as excited about my own. Who knows what will happen next? Will I buy a home in California? Will I get orders to Korea? Will I get another overseas assignment and extend in the military? Will I fall in love and finally have a chance at a family? There is so much opportunity for change and a whole new set of adventures; I just have to wait and see what comes next.