I’ve been a bad girl. It’s been almost a month since I’ve updated and I really am sorry for that. I know people look forward to hearing what is going on and seeing pictures. So much for my Picture of the Day, huh? I will be better, REALLY, I promise. I’ll be better.
It’s been a busy month, which is a good excuse for why I haven’t posted, but it wouldn’t be the truth. It’s just that when I finally get back to my trailer at night, usually after 9pm and a 12 to 15-hour day, I’m just too tired to be creative and/or entertaining. And I realize you don’t need me to be creative, you just want “me”, but there is some pressure when you know people will be reading.
Life out here is pretty good, all things considered. It’s very different than my first tour - I mean, really different. In the Green Zone in 2004, we were surrounded by hundreds of civilian contractors, federal employees from the Department of Defense and State Department, and local Iraqis hired for daily work in “the zone”. I was covering stories that spanned the country – from oil refineries, hospitals, schools, and even the Babylon ruins. Occasionally, those stories would involve soldiers but mostly, they were stories of rebuilding and restructuring, and often times they starred civilians who were paid big bucks to improve the quality of life in Iraq. Admittedly, those stories were fun because I got to travel and see a lot of things, but I didn’t truly get a solid appreciation for what the soldiers on the ground were doing on a daily basis – because mostly I was interviewing civilians. Now, although the mission isn’t as “sexy” (my detachment falls under a “sustainment” command – which means feeding supplies to troops in theater), I certainly do appreciate what the soldiers are doing on a daily basis and just how vital and important their role is in this conflict. I’m not talking politics; I’m talking soldiering.
Every day, there are soldiers who go on “route clearance” missions outside the wire. They are the soldiers who go out before the supply delivery convoys, usually before the sun comes up, and scout for IED’s or other known threats in the area. They do this so the supply convoys have a better chance of reaching their destination without incident – meaning, they clear the route of potential bombs that cause unimaginable damage and harm. Take a minute to think of that as your job – something that becomes so routine you forget there is a good chance it can kill you. Personalize it, if you can. It’s mind blowing to think of what theses men and women do for a living. That, for whatever the reason is they joined the military, they now find themselves confronting explosives head on and detonating them before they kill their battle buddies. It sounds cheesy but to me, it’s awe-inspiring. I do little in comparison to these soldiers; I simply put a camera in their face and ask for the privilege to tell their story but seeing it firsthand gives me a much deeper appreciation for how tough, and dangerous, a job it is.
We don’t get caught up in the politics of this War. In fact, I feel pretty out of touch with what is going on in the news, unlike last time. I rarely, if ever, have time to watch television or read the newspaper, and I don’t have any idea what is going on with the Presidential race. In less than a year, we will have a new Commander in Chief, and most of us are so busy with our mission, we have little time to absorb information that will help us cast our vote. I anticipate many trips here by Presidential candidates in 2008. The military vote is a large one and whoever is voted in office has a huge responsibility with our lives. I don’t envy that responsibility (shudder).
Before I came here, I authored a post on this blog labeled “Care Packages”. I thought it was fairly information and I knew some people might think the comment about the letters from school children being largely unnecessary was a bit harsh, but I didn’t think it would warrant this type of backlash:
Wow...I'd love to meet this person face to face. Better yet, I'd love this person to meet my mom, my husband, my brother and sister, my in-laws, my friends, and my boss's at Access Hollywood and SDI who have also had to sacrifice and worry every single day that I've spent in Iraq since late 2003. I understand someone taking my post out of context, but this particular commenter clearly has an agenda of his or her own. Just for giggles, in case "anonymous" comes back for a second round of MY LIFE A to Z literature, I'll address some of the accusations with proof they are more than a little ill-informed.
Pretty as a picture and living in luxery in Iraq.
Does anyone else find this part of the sentence bizarre? "...living in luxery (sic) in Iraq". Who thinks that ANYONE is living in luxury in Iraq? hahahahaha...okay moving on.
I guess I should take the compliment and accept that sometimes I am pretty as a picture. After all, I am assuming the picture he/she is looking at is from my wedding and if HAPPINESS equals PRETTY, them I'm guilty as charged. As for living in luxery (um, spell check is key if you are going for credibility), try this out for size: I have sand in nearly every crevice; my fingernails, no matter how often I clean them, are always dirty; I share a porto potty with hundreds of strangers at least 5 times a day; I share a very small room with another woman, virtually guaranteeing little or no privacy for a year; I live on a base that is mortared several times throughout the day and my wake up call sometimes sounds like this: "this is the command post, there has been an indirect fire attack. I repeat, there has been an indirect fire attack. seek cover seek cover seek cover."; every day I inhale toxins and who knows what else from smoke that rises from the huge fire pit on base; several times a month, I seek to tell stories that can potentially kill me, because that is my job; my husband of just six months, my family, friends and job are more than 8,000 miles away; And I live in the most dangerous country in the world. Some luxurious life, huh? If I'm not mistaken, save for the "cot life" in Kuwait on my way here, I've never really complained about the set up, have I? Just checking.
that deal you have with Netgrocer (another client of your firm?) must be very lucrative.
hahahahahaha - I've personally spent hundreds of dollars at Netgrocer.com during my deployments. I've yet to see any dollaz coming to me....hahahahahaha. This is fun.
Many soldiers are living in very remote, dangerous and inconvenient areas.
This is very true and I have addressed the living conditions of these soldiers, including my appreciation for what they do. Perhaps he/she should read the entire post, and they'll see that.
They write daily to an organization you put down and say that any communication with soldiers would be GREATLY appreciated.
I didn't put any organization down; I simply said that many (but not all) soldiers want to communicate with people they know, instead of complete strangers. If you are not a member of the military, you probably don't understand. At first, the letters are cute but after a while, you crave personal communication. ALL communication is appreciated but some is more effective than others. That is all I was trying to say. Jeez.
...tells most of us that you are a PR plant. A well paid (and well housed) model posing as a PR person hired by the government to show us what a great old time our soldiers are having.
Bitter much? Yea, I'm Sydney Bristow and this is my version of Alias, only I'm a model and Iraq is my catwalk. How many models do you know are PR plants - in the most dangerous countries in the world? And how many models do you know make $28,000 a year working internationally, as I apparently am right now? Better yet, if I am a model posing as a PR plant, why do I look like a soldier? I'm wearing a uniform so according to "anonymous" that would make me a soldier plant, not a PR plant. Hahahaha...thanks for the model compliment though. Camouflage does suit me, I'll give you that. Keep reading this blog, and the one from last time, and you'll see, if the government is paying me to push positive stories about them, they aren't using their money wisely.
it is very clear that you have an agenda and that the solders would be best served by the unpaid citizens who supprt them and not some press release writer like you are.
Tsk Tsk. Again with the spellcheck. Look in to it. For the record, I think the soldiers are very well served by me, not as a "model pr plant", but as their battle buddy. I serve alongside them, with them at times, through 2 deployments, while documenting a truly unique and intense time in their lives; a time when all they want to do is succeed at their mission so they can return home in one piece; a time when many of them lose friends in an instant while keeping Americans safe to enjoy their freedom; a time when emails make the difference in their day and a care package from their family fuels the energy they need to keep going; a time when people like anonymous questions their service and try to make them feel guilty because they are provided with a decent bed to sleep on. But they keep going because that's what soldiers do.
Greg will laugh at me responding to "anonymous" and I don't blame him because I'm giving attention to someone whose comment was buried in a post from months ago. When I first read it, it really did bother me. In fact, I was pissed. But then I cooled off and laughed about it. The model bit was my favorite. And while I am no longer upset about it, I wanted to defend the allegations, not for most people who read this blog but for those like "anonymous" who feel I was disrespectful in my post.
Mostly, though, I'm fighting back because this deployment and separation is very painful to me. Every day I hurt, just like thousands of other soldiers, and whether they are resting comfortably in trailers or sleeping uncomfortably on the sand, the pain of prolonged separation is the same. And if one person, whether I know them or not, questions the sincerity of my service, I take it personally. I'm not some high paid model working undercover in Iraq; I'm an American soldier and this is my second tour of duty in a war zone in service of my Country. I am sacrificing, my family is sacrificing and thousands of Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice. I will not allow some random comment to cheapen that.