Friday, July 24, 2009

War-zone living

As I write this, I am pondering the realities of living in a war zone. It is surreal, knowing I am in the most heavily mined country in the world and planning missions that include preparing what to do in the event the trucks are attacked, yet I just finished off my "surf-n-turf" dinner with name-brand ice cream. Please do not take the foregoing statement to mean that I have developed an attitude of complacency. The reverse is true: We are faced daily with the fact that this is a war zone and fellow soldiers are giving their lives to make things different here. It is just a strange way to live.

I know many of you may wonder how we do live, and I struggle to tell you as I am always fearful of giving out information that is considered "secret." So, in broad strokes, I will try.

We sleep in wooden buildings that are divided into "private" rooms, but the walls only go three-f0urths of the way to the ceiling. Sound does travel, and if your neighbor sets her alarm for 5 a.m., you might as well get up, too. We have electrical power and can pay for Internet and cable TV that comes right into the room. The Internet is slow and unreliable, but at least I am managing to post. (So far, so good.) I didn't even splurge for the cable. Aside from the fact that I don't have a TV, I spend so little time in my room it seemed like a waste. There are several dining facilities (DFAC) on base, but all serve basically the same food. I have heard a rumor that one is better than the others, but my expectations are low. All in all, the food is fine—not spectacular, but palatable. I am thrilled with the amount of fresh fruit, and the chocolate-chip cookies are yummy!

I spend my day at the office doing any number of tasks. I do clinic work for a couple hours daily, but that is pretty flexible, depending on need or mission requirements. I spend the rest of my day doing whatever needs to get done—anything from planning a mission to sorting medical supplies to diffusing some confusion with the provincial governor. I have visited the Egyptian hospital here on base several times and am excited about the warm welcome I received and their desire to assist the people of Afghanistan.

A lot of what we are doing right now is trying to build relationships needed to complete our work over the next several months. I am constantly amazed at how many organizations—military and others—are operating in the area but how little project-related communication there is between them. We really want to build our network so we can reduce duplication of effort.

So, when do I find time for fun? At some point in the day, I usually manage a trip to the gym and, most evenings, I watch a movie or read before falling asleep so I can do it all again. My day is spent with members of my team, so I enjoy the peace and quiet that my room brings. I try to talk to Nate and the kids daily but, with their current travels, that has been hard. I find the times we do talk difficult. It makes me miss them more and the reality of the situation hits home. I guess that is the surreal part: The days become routine but then you are hit over the head with the realization that this IS a war zone and I am going to spend the next 8.5 months a long way from home! Heavy for a Friday night, but that is where my mind is today.


  1. Thank you so much for this post Lori. Really helped me get a little bit of a feel for what deployment might be like in the future. Keep up the posts!

  2. Lori, you rock! Thanks for all you do!

  3. I can only imagine. Thank you for trying to bring it home for the rest of us.

    Keep writing!