Army, CARA and Iraq discussed on This is War
Podcast ADT tested trusted, proven. CARA came home, exhausted exhausted from fighting and from driving in from being away from home and exhausted from being vigilant after all, when you're on base, you can hear gunfire and you can hear mortars coming in. She had long before reach the point where those things were part of the scenery, but one about people coming up behind you just to say Hello or someone knocking on your door and sitting down to have a conversation. What about when you're showering, hoping that the friend you've convinced stand guard doesn't abandon his post or turn on you as well. You don't fear for your life, but rather for being made to feel powerless with no recourse. Then the anger and the fear worked together to keep you completely ill at ease in your own skin. Even in the places you should feel the safest. I never saw myself as there was never a separation if that makes sense. Like male female to me, I was just a soldier and now all. All I can think about is, am I weak because I'm a female, am I weak? Because why else would he have tried to do that? You know what I mean? So it definitely changed how I view not only myself, but just the service in general because it was like, I'm here to serve my country. I'm here to do something that only one percent of the population in the United States of America is willing to do. And now I have to worry about this, but Carrie was a fighter and not stupid. She felt fortunate than her story didn't have a worse ending and after blowing off a month's worth of steam back at home, she said herself new plan for her career in the army. It was the career that she'd been building for herself from the time. She was very young woman plus once she was back stateside, there were solutions available to her that just didn't exist in Iraq. I lived. Breeze ate slept army. I was what they called high speed. I enjoyed my job. I enjoyed like by the time I left Texas. I was a sergeant I got promoted. I had a team of my own people. And when I got the Fort Bragg, I became automatically just because of time and service squad leader. And you know, the dynamic had shifted, and I went from a huge company to a very, very small company. And so I had a lot to learn as an NCO. But in that transition period between four hundred and four brag, I loved it. I thought I was going to do it forever. I couldn't see myself doing anything else because I, I was fairly good at what I did. I loved being an NCO. I love taking care soldiers and being there because you know, I had pretty good leadership, very good leadership in some areas, but then the shitty leadership is what made me want to be that I wanted to be able to fix it. You know, like that's how I kind of. Looked at. It was like, I can't bit about what a sergeant does if I'm not willing to step up and be one. So that's what I was kinda my mentality at that time, whether it's from battle or from successfully fighting off a sexual assault. The response military people tends to be the same, shake it off and get back to work carrot, transferred out of the ninety six. So she wouldn't have to work with failed attacker and set her sights on a better career of service luck is a strange way to put it. But one in four women in the military has to deal with sexual assault, the numbers for harassment or even higher. Once it was clear to CARA that professionalism, injustice weren't going to be her allies. She knew her as a soldier were numbered. She found that out when she turned down the opportunity to go on a date with her boss. The final straw was when I had a superior NCO. He was my acting. I art calling me into his office telling me to shut the. Door standing me at parade rest and talking down to me and belittling, I sing the worst things imaginable to me, and he would do that until he saw the first here, like he would do that to me until I cried. He did this for weeks. And then as soon as he would see like that, I hear or like my face are to do cry thing. He would dismiss me and it was every morning after before everybody was in the office. And so it was like one of those what the fuck is going on. Like trying to job why you treat me this way. Everything got me out of bed in the morning after that was just like the last straw. So like I experienced that in rewinding into Iraq. Like I went through that trauma with someone I worked with and then fast forward about two years, not even a full two years. It was like a year and a half, and then I started experiencing that. With someone that was in charge of me, and I knew that when it was time to go, I was I was going to take it. I knew that there was no way that I was gonna come out of that with peace of mind. You know what I mean? So I knew that I had to start focusing on me and the only way to do that was to get the hell out of the army. Two thousand nine wasn't a great year to be looking for work in rural Indiana after being unable to find a job even at a gas station car eventually got her CD l. and started working as a bus driver. She partly Danja into another one working with at risk youth in the drill sergeant type position when she wasn't working, she was drinking. And when she wasn't drinking, she was paralyzed by panic attacks. But that's not what sent cower the message that she needed help. She was diagnosed with alopicia a disease that made her hair fall out. She would have to learn to own her baldness and as she did, she would own the rest of it too. I think what made me do it is because I have. Friends that served that still are dealing with their shit, and they are failing life. Like I love them dearly, but the only reason their heads above water is because they've got a disability check coming in to me, that's not how I wanna live. And so you know, I went through all of that and the alopicia diagnosis is like, what made me dive headfirst into? Okay, let's get your mind right? Because you haven't focused focused on myself and working on my problems ever. You didn't do it in the army because you were labeled as week, you know, like if you went to talk to a therapist in the military, that wasn't something that was common because one conversation with a streak could make you non deployable and the nondeployed being mate. Non deployable means that you know, onger meet the needs of the army anymore. So that's a threat to you. Career. That's why nobody does it. Or did it then I don't know about the army nowadays, but for me, like three years after the army is when I started focusing on what was wrong and how to fix it therapy worked for CARA because it gave her mission to accomplish, but it also put her in charge of her own being. She owned the baldness and the trial she endured in the service. She owns her life now and she doesn't pretend that nothing happened should just incorporated into her daily life. It was something her uncle told her when she decided to leave the army and was having trouble finding her place in the world. And the one thing I never forget. He said, you know kid. The one thing about this stuff is it doesn't go away. He's like, but you can find comfort in that you learn to deal with it, and I didn't really understand at the time, but that was a couple years ago and over the course of the last couple of years, it hits home every time. It's like, oh, I get what you meant. I feel like the happy ending is that because I focused on my issues, I help other people, but also helped myself. I have a good job with the Indiana Department of transportation and in college, and I'm doing things that I never thought I would do my thirties, but I'm doing the damn thing. I to me, that's a happy ending and it self. Like I'm here right now today, and you know there was times where I didn't think I would be, you know. So many of us struggle with what we encounter in the service while serving that sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm so thankful that I've had other veterans that had my back to where I got my head straight enough to where I can give that back to joining the military healthcare, a hone her fighting instinct. It was good leadership income rotary the turned her into an excellent resourceful soldier. But it also taught her the most important lesson that she needed after she left dealing with good leadership and reliable comrades, just like poor leadership in despicable ones are part of what a person needs to navigate this life. If you cultivate your inner strength and self reliance, if you learn to overcome obstacles and choose your allies very wisely. In the end, you can call upon yourself in the most dire times and know that your spirit will help you answer that call.