As we near the 10-year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, Yahoo News asked U.S. servicemen and women who served to share their perspectives and discuss how it changed them. Here's one story.
FIRST PERSON | Here I was: a woman, 23, and an Army specialist (E-4) participating in the 2003 Iraq War, while recovering from the mental effects of my second miscarriage.
Dealing with one miscarriage is bad enough, but dealing with a second one, while in a war, is 10 times worse. I experienced my first miscarriage back in 2001, surrounded by family and friends.
After my second, which happened in September 2002, I was in an Iraqi desert, surrounded by strangers.
Before being deployed to Iraq, I was with my husband in South Korea from February 2002 to February 2003. After experiencing my second miscarriage during that deployment, my whole world turned upside down. I could no longer function as a "proper" soldier in South Korea. I started blaming my chain of command for my miscarriage.
I know; that's irrational. But I ceased to think clearly. So, I transferred back to the United States, not knowing that as soon as I landed in Fort Stewart, Ga., I would be heading off to war on March 10, 2003. If I had known, I would have never decided to abandon my husband in South Korea. Honestly, I do not know what the military was thinking. If I could not be a "proper" soldier in South Korea, why do they think I could be a more functional soldier in Iraq?
I was in Iraq for about five months, coping with the miscarriage all alone while being a soldier. I had no one to talk to: no friends, no family, and not even a psychiatrist to help me with my personal problem. Thank God I had at least one thing to keep me distracted from my miscarriage: my job. I was a 92 Alpha (A), an automated logistic specialist, the military equivalent to a warehouse or supply clerk, stationed about 30 miles away from Baghdad. While pulling guard duty and building tents, I was completing supply orders while maintaining a fully stocked warehouse. My job was vital: Without the 92 Alphas supplying the necessary parts, the military vehicles would quickly cease to operate due to the harsh conditions we experienced in Iraq.
Even though I became more resourceful during my time in Iraq, I disliked executing "questionable" orders, regardless of rank or position. I especially did not like taking orders from leaders who thought that their soldiers' safety and mental state were not a high priority. Quite frankly, I did not understand why United States was at war with Iraq in the first place. And I still don't. Since there were no weapons of mass destruction found, I could not see a good reason for the United States to be in Iraq.
In those few hot months in Iraq, I began to view my own government as a tyrant that used the military as pawns to get what it wanted: oil. Obtaining oil and other needed resources are not a good reason to invade another country. It is OK to act when our country is face with a clear and ominous threat like we did after 9/11, but we must have all the facts.
We can't go bombing or invading another country to save face or obtain needed resources, no matter how many American citizens are calling for blood or for more resources. If United States keeps making these destructive decisions then other countries and their leaders will soon label us as a tyrant as well -- if they haven't already.
I feel we have done the Iraqi people a grave injustice. We came into their country, killed their leader, bombed their homes, and took over their resources without any provocation from them. And for what? Weapons of mass destruction, resources, money, or military control? At this point, nobody really knows the true, definitive reason why the United States was in Iraq, except perhaps the politicians and the decision-makers directly under the Bush and Obama administrations. And now, many Iraqis are displaced from their own country and their own traditions because of our misguided involvement.
From the time I ended my service with the military, I was floundering through life. Somehow I managed to obtain my bachelor's degree in English, while still coping with my second miscarriage and bouncing between jobs. Even though I was mostly distracted from the miscarriage during my time in Iraq, I did not completely get over that loss until I my son was born in May 2007.
Now I am currently living with my husband and my son in the northern part of Tulsa, Okla., as a stay-at-home mom, pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. Before I joined the military, playing my tenor saxophone and writing took up most of my time. Now that I see our world getting bombarded by negativity and suffering from their financial situation, I am on a mission to reawaken the human spirit with the use of my old talents.