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    Home away from home



    Courtesy Story

    1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

    By: Spc. Gary Chessa

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Any service member who has served a short amount of time will agree that the definition of home tends to be slightly different than what the average person would define it as.

    With multiple deployments as well as spending anywhere from weeks to months in foreign countries for simple training exercises, “home” becomes more of an idea rather than an actual geographical location. Over time service members adapt the area around them into something that resembles a home whether it is photos of loved ones or perhaps something as simple as a collection of books.

    Spc. Tabetha Mckenzie, an Emporium, Pa., native deployed with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division to Afghanistan, has arranged her living area to make herself feel more at home.

    “I have a collage on my wall with pictures of my family and artwork that my son made for me.” She said.

    Much like McKenzie, Sgt. Matthew Clark, from Anchorage, Alaska, has pictures of loved ones and also a photo slide show of his family on his laptop’s screensaver.

    In no time at all the small area given to service members begins to resemble a small apartment. Though, it’s their temporary place of peace it will never be home.

    One of the most important things to most service members is social interaction. Whether it is a game of basketball or hamburgers and a movie with the entire battalion staff, people have a natural need to be around others.

    A lack of social interaction can have a negative impact on a person’s health, for example depression as well as other psychological impacts that can be easily avoided with team interaction.

    Service members have many ways to pass the time while deployed.

    Some use their time doing college courses, others such as Sgt. Joshua Meader from Pittsfield, Maine, and Cpl.Travis Hott, from Crandall, Ga., enjoy playing video games on the systems provided in the Morale Welfare and Recreation tents throughout Afghanistan.

    Pfc. Matheau Sloan of Worcester, Mass., like many others enjoys going to the gym on a regular basis, while the service members assigned to the battalion intelligence section gather together at least once a week for a movie night. The battalion as a whole gathers together every week or so for a barbecue and either a movie or card tournament in an effort to build esprit de corps.

    Whether they are a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine most will agree that one thing that helps with being away from home is the care packages sent by family and friends back home.

    The contents of the package generally do not matter much, especially on a small outpost in the middle of Afghanistan. A simple note, piece of artwork from a child, or a box of snack crackers can make a world of difference to a service member’s morale.

    Family members also play a key role in reducing the perceived distance between here and home and the idea that someone is thinking about the service member, is what makes it important.
    Airman 1st Class Travis Hunt said the biggest piece of advice he can give to future deploying service members is “to keep a good attitude.”

    Staff Sgt. Bryan Fenn said “It is important to keep in contact with family members whether it is by email or phone… it’s important to make the call once or twice a week so it is something to look forward to.”

    All service members tend to agree it’s good to have some sort of activity or hobby to keep yourself occupied during these long tours of duty. And while these techniques work, most agree that there’s no replacement for the love and support from family members as well as a good ‘battle buddy’.



    Date Taken: 11.30.2011
    Date Posted: 11.30.2011 04:37
    Story ID: 80695

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    Home away from home