Well, the official announcement has been made, and my departure is coming up fast! Once again, this trip is the culmination of months of work, hours of phone calls and forms, and calling in every favor that I could think of! I am so thankful to everyone who is involved with this project, and believe me... there are a lot of people on that list!
There's the obvious... everyone here at WAAF, Mike my producer, who volunteered to go with me. Without him, there would be no trip! Believe it or not, there was not a HUGE line of people begging to head into a war zone! The staff at the Mass Army National Guard have been amazing. They've been coordinating from which units I will visit, to printing T-shirts, and helping me track down the necessary gear. The EMBED office in Afghanistan, has been amazing as well, leading me through the paperwork process. I can tell you that after 2 trips to the Middle East, my record is CLEAN! I must include the Commanders and the members of the 182 Infantry, and the 26th MEB for accepting my EMBED application, and taking on the added responsibility of having a purple haired, rock DJ tag along during their deployment. If they felt that it would have a negative impact on their safety or impede their performance, they had the right to say NO. Thankfully, they didn't. I also have to thank the list of sponsors who stepped up to help cover the costs, of such an ordeal. Since the list of things provided to EMBEDS is very short (shelter, food, protection, and emergency medical) there are a lot of expenses involved. Flights, armor, medical costs, equipment, and fees, just to name a few. Thanks to the Mass Association of Realtors, Porter & Chester Institute, Manchester/Nashua Harley Davidson, DCU, Boston Firefighters Union Local 718/Boston Fireman's Post #94, Vater Drumsticks, Lane Printing, New Balance, and of course the Mass Army National Guard have all played a part in getting this trip off the ground! To all of them, I am eternally grateful!
Once the paperwork process began, and the expenses started to be taken care of... The uncomfortable conversations begin. There is nothing more 'fun' than having meetings about worst case scenarios. Sitting down with my bosses here at WAAF, to discuss injury, kidnapping, and death is no way to spend your lunch break. These meetings are enough to keep any boss from letting an employee head overseas. Thankfully, this was just an uncomfortable meeting and we've moved on. They know that I will be with the best, brightest, and bravest! I understand that everyone here is worried, but there are hundreds of families going through those very emotions everyday while their loved ones are deployed.
I spent the last couple of days making sure that I have everything on the 'required pack list', washing all of the gear, and going through my personal paperwork to make sure that everything is in order before we leave. All this, for 2 weeks! Now just imagine being one of these brave soldiers, or married to one! How do you plan to have your spouse be away for over a year? It's just mind boggling to think of everything you would need to do before they leave! How do you say "I love you" to the people in your life enough, to take care of an entire year of being away? The answer? You can't.
This is the reason for this trip! AAF to Afghanistan, is all of our way to say "Thank You" for everything that our troops go through to protect us, and everything that they give up to do their job! There is no way to say "Thank You" enough, but we'll try!
I'll start checking in, on the air from Afghanistan on Tuesday September 6!