“Never in a Million Years: Tales from a travelin’ Femme”.

Posted: 0 11th October, 2011 in civilian contractor, feminism, Passion, Avocation & vocation, Travel, Uncategorized

That’s what I first said, “Never in a million years would I go over there”.  Yep, you should really try to never, ever say never; cause it will always comes back to bite you in the ass, literally.  I said this in 2003 when Dave went over, then again in 2004 when Rene and Lloyd went over, and it wasn’t until Dawn had been there for a few months that I decided, that maybe I could do it as well.  Going to Iraq as a civilian contractor was one of the many things over the last 10 years that I said that I would do… uh huh, yeah right, never in a million years.  And not for the reasons you might assume.  I certainly did not agree with why the US invaded Iraq, and yes I’m using the word invaded instead of rescued or any other term to describe the political and financial motivations of our nation’s leaders to go to Iraq.  Nor did I have the respect for military folks and their jobs, which for many of them is voluntary, which a lot of us forget.  This adventure was certainly not one that I had on my bucket list.  I am definitely not sorry that I went, nor that I spent 3+ years over in the sandbox.

So why did I go?  When 2006 began, I was in the middle of all kinds of crap, not the least of which was being one of America’s millions of working poor.  It was not my idea of who and or what I wanted to be, and although I had friends and family who gave plenty of support, I was determined to get out from behind the 8ball.  So, I applied; and I got lucky — I got an offer that I could not and did not refuse.  I freely admit that I took advantage of the job opportunity, and the idea of making 3-4 time my normal monthly earning made the deal even sweater.  I planned to stay for only one year, the length of my initial contract.  Yep that didn’t last long at all.  There was plenty of talk of going home during the 6 months of 130+ sweltering heat of the Iraqi summer, but once it started to cool off and after my first vacation, I wasn’t going anywhere.  I thought back to what I would be going home to; you know that bird in the hand versus the bush thing…  Yeah, not even.

Several of the people who I talked to over the last 4 years want to know: Wasn’t I scared?  Wasn’t I nervous about going to Iraq?  Frankly, I was much more intrigued and excited.  Really excited that I was going to earn a butt load of money doing a job I am well qualified to do, and really excited to see the world.  I’m not sure why I wasn’t nervous or scared.  I can tell you that I did have a very intellectualized idea of the living conditions, but I didn’t have the faintest idea what real life was like: to live and work in the middle of a war zone, even after hearing stories from friends and family who were already deployed.  They told us during orientation that we could be living in large tent with eight or more women, not have access to shower or bathing facilities for days at a time, and more importantly, we could get shot, die from toxic gas attacks, or any other numerous very unpleasant ways to die!  No, my mind was not focused on these facts at all.  I figured it would be like a bad, very rough, hot, dusty camping trip.  Stop, please, no need to say it.  I know; I was going to a war zone: “to be deployed within theatre”.

What was I thinking?  I’m not sure, but in hindsight, it was probably the best way to go into a situation like that.  I acknowledged the possibility, but I would not let fear keep me from taking the first step: I’d never accomplish anything with my life letting fear rule.  Yes, I was very, very lucky.  Many of the civilians and certainly the military folks who went to Iraq either didn’t come back, or came back too injured to make it in “normal” day-to-day life.  Too many came back so fucked up that they reenlisted or went back as contractors because civilian life just didn’t make sense to a heart and mind messed up by back-to-back tours of duty without a break to see and be with family.  So messed up, that to this day the military can’t provide adequate medical care to heal the enormous hurts to the body, mind, and spirit of our wounded vets.  I still don’t agree with why the US government sent US military, and spent millions of dollars for the US to go to war in Iraq.  After living and working in Iraq for 3 years; meeting and working with Iraqi’s who took their lives into their hands each day to work for the US military and the Department of State; working for the soldiers, airmen, and seamen who I never met; I know that doing my job to support them was definitely worth it.

I met some truly amazing wonderful people: American’s, Iraqi’s, Pakistani’s, Afghan’s, Pilipino, Bosnians, Albanians, Nepalese, and Bangladeshis to name a few.  I also met some fuckers, American’s mostly, who should hope they don’t ever meet me in a dark alley.

The stories that I’m going to tell will be about my experiences in Iraq and the other countries I’ve had the chance to visit; and more important to me about the people that I’ve met.  Stick around; you don’t want to miss the next installment.

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Comments
  1. Deanne says:

    Look forward to reading more!

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