I’ve been mulling this one for a while…
I’ve been home about 11 days now. For the most part, things have been fine. I’ve gotten back into the routine…somewhat. I have to admit, having the new Macbook has been more of a distractor than anything else in terms of keeping to the housework, the kids and a couple of loose ends related to my deployment.
I figured I’d write about some various things on my mind these past couple weeks. Not everyone who I mention necessarily reads this blog, but perhaps one day if someone Googles a person’s name, this post will come up.
First off, I owe a thank you to all of the folks who helped me prepare for this deployment. This is a varied listing, from MSgts Lehman and Beaupre, who made phone calls and arranged for a lot of my training to be done from Offutt, to MSgt Curtis at Air Force Weather Agency, who made my local arrangements for weapons, chemical/biological warfare training, and answered my questions about medical outprocessing. These senior non-commissioned officers made magic happen so that I could leave for the deployment from home instead of from South Carolina. They even arranged it so I could get some drill pay to compensate me for the time spent just doing online training — about 40 hours worth! I also need to thank the Veeneman and Anderson families, who provided hours of Timmy babysitting when there wasn’t space in the Offutt Child Development Center.
Thanks to everyone who sent me e-mails and care packages while I was gone. This includes the Goldman, Warlick, Buckler, Vollmer (both the Nebraska and New York Vollmers), Fox, and Gifford families. You listened to my requests for St. Patrick’s Day goodies, 100-Calorie Chessmen, toilet paper, and single-serve sugar-free drink mix packets.
Thanks also to those who made my deployment experience outstanding while on shift…this could never be done without great people who continued to find a sense a humor, kept things “real” and kept their chins up even when things weren’t going hunkey-dorey. There’s no way I’m going to include all the names, but you know who you are. I learned so much about leadership, officership and military professionalism in general. I will carry those lessons for the rest of my military career.
To the members of the weather team with whom I had the honor of serving: Maj Matt Hauke, Lt Joey Clevenger, AGC Angel Rossy, MSgt Chris Canarina and SSgt Mike Main. To Lt Clevenger and SSgt Main in particular, they were my night shift compadres and I don’t know how many times they kept me in line — their seasoned, experienced work in CENTCOM helped keep me looking good! Thanks!
To my deployment buddies — those who emerged from my crazy active duty past to cross paths with me halfway around the world: Maj Rose Lathrop, Maj Kasi Traweek and Capt Paul Bryan. Thanks for taking time out of your schedules so we can get together for Friday coffees and Saturday pizza/gyro lunches. I was reminded of “Sex and the City” where the gals got together every weekend for lunch at a diner and would talk about anything and everything — Paul, I know you’re not a gal, but you could gossip/chat/emote as well as the rest of us! Rose and Kasi, congratulations on your engagements, and Paul, congratulations on your new baby — I owe you a blanket, it’s coming this week, I promise!
I owe a special “thank you” to Maj Paul Gifford — yes, that same Paul you’ve heard me talk about for quite some time. He’s the one who stepped up with me to divide our 179-day deployment in half. For this to work, we both had to be medically, physically, and duty qualified. We were putting an incredible amount of trust in each other and I thank Paul for coming through on his end of the bargain…
Last, but certainly not least, the biggest thank you of all goes to my awesome family:
Dave: if you remember, I got the “invitation” for this trip the same week you were feverishly making edits to your dissertation for that last Dr. Lackmann signature! This past July. On top of finishing your dissertation and getting the family ready to move, you cleared your mind enough to give me the chance to press forward with preparing for my trip. I know you weren’t jumping up and down saying “Please go, Patricia!”, but you helped me work out the timeline, helped with childcare during preparations and — most of all — played SINGLE DAD for 4 months during the worst winter you’d ever experienced. I wondered if you had a catastrophe-free week: Howie’s ACL injury, all 3 of you with colds, flooded basement, van repairs. Getting to talk, via phone, webcam or even IM chat with you was the highlight of my time over there…thank you!
Jacob and Timmy: to my babies! You two are amazing — Jacob, you continued to thrive in school and trusted that I would be home in “100 days”. Timmy, I can’t believe how much you’ve grown since I left — you’re now READING and talking so well! I loved talking and web-chatting with you while I was away, hearing your stories always put such a smile on my face. Thank you for all the letters and artwork, too. Jacob, your Groundhog decorated our weather section for about a month, while we celebrated a Groundhog’s Day…over…and over…and over.
While I was deployed, I found out there are some limited job opportunities here at Offutt, so I’ll be transferring units later this summer. I love my unit at Shaw, but it’s time to move on and minimize these commutes.
I don’t plan to volunteer for another deployment. If I get sent over, I’ll serve honorably…but it does lead me to a new question: “What now?” A couple options have crossed my mind — at the forefront is looking into becoming a math teacher. There’s a program called “Troops to Teachers” that is supposed to offer some flexibility for getting teacher certifications.
In closing, I was so glad I was able to be part of the Global War on Terror. I was in grad school on 9/11 and I remember feeling like the most useless member of our military — I remember trying to donate blood and being told that the Red Cross wouldn’t even take my blood because I had spent time along the Korean DMZ. To be able to see how we’re running our war, and seeing how incredibly tough it is to forecast the weather for Iraq and Afghanistan, was an experience I’ll never forget.