Hi, my name is Todd and I’m in the US Army reserves. A veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq, I’ve worked as an interpreter, medic, interviewer, shit-burner, screener, analyst, laundry washer, negotiator, mechanic, gardener, investigator, tower guard, bitch boy, editor, interrogator, babysitter, counselor, disciplinarian, teacher, bus driver, liaison, and just about anything else a soldier does in a career that spans 20 years. While some of those jobs really sucked, some were incredible, and each contributed to who I am today.
I joined the Army Reserves while attending grad school at the University of Texas. I had just left active Army service and thought the reserves would offer a smooth transition to a successful civilian life. Boy was I in for a knock upside the head.
I finished school and scored a great job upon graduation. However, my slow, planned exit from all things military would take a drastic turn.
The events of September 11th had a profound affect on all Americans, especially on the military. After 9/11, I wanted to embrace the Army, instead of leave it. I wanted to give back, and get back at the bastards who attacked us. I soon had my chance.
It was an easy, natural transition. At the end of September 2001 I was laid off, and in early October I was activated, then sent to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. That was an increcible year of personal and professional growth. But it wouldn't be the last time I deployed to a war zone.
The time between deployments was short - I had been home from Afghanistan for only 5 months before going to Iraq But hey, it was okay.
If ya think about it, some soldiers never get to do their jobs - like artilleryman, infantryman, interrogator, combat cameraman, EOD – unless it’s in a war zone. I’ve got friends who served 20 years in the military without ever deploying. The closest they came to Afghanistan or Iraq was a practice exercise in another country. Just luck of the draw I guess. Bad luck if ya ask me. Unlike those friends, I experienced life in a war zone.
I want to be clear – serving in a war zone is very different from serving in combat. I never served in combat. I never had to man the gates and repel the enemy, or respond to an ambush while on patrol, or recover from an IED. Sure, I traveled from base to base when deployed but I was lucky. I never encountered anything more than mortar attacks and the occasional nearby car bomb. Those sucked, but I was always behind the protective armored plates of a vehicle or the gates of our base. I figured I was safe.
My experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq are unique to me. Many vets have similar experiences, some worse – some easier. Each is distinctive and should be given voice, if the vet decides to speak out. And that's what Ridiculosity is about - coming to grips with the disruption of deployments by giving voice to my experiences.
Writing is carthartic. It's the medicine that allows me to capture, understand and process the events in my life. Some events I haven't touched upon - unprepared to re-visit the drama or disaster. I'll get to those. But Ridiculosity is different. It's my attempt to process the deployment through humor and reflection. I try to inject humor and understanding into everything I do. After all, who doesn't enjoy a good laugh?