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  • Veterans Day: Local Vets Share Their Experience
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Veterans Day: Local Vets Share Their Experience

Veterans Day: Local Vets Share Their Experience

November 11th is Veterans Day and M22 is flooded with gratitude for the men and woman who have gone above and beyond to protect our freedom. With less than .5% of our population serving in the military we were honored to reach out to some of our local Veteran neighbors and friends.   

We found it extremely difficult to summarize what these local veterans shared with us and therefore we asked our store manager, Liz Belt, to give us some insight on what it’s like to be in the military.  

 

Name: Liz Belt
Branch of Service: Army Reserve
Years Served: 12
Combat tours:
Military Job: Bridge Engineer

“I remember finally getting a chance to call home from Iraq in 2003 and hearing my mom cry on the other end.  She kept asking about the explosions she could hear and I kept trying to tell her it was us and not them.  I wanted to talk about normal life and she could barely breath.  I think I took that for granted.  The big picture is different though.  Imagine winning the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup without spectators.  You walk away from a large training or combat mission with feelings that can only be shared with your team.  There’s no way to relive or explain them to someone who hasn’t been there, and that’s ok.  Unless you were drafted for a war, you chose to do it, and you are most likely proud of the unexplainable stories you walk away with.  Sometimes things are horrific and sometimes it’s a level of brotherhood that you wouldn’t trade for anything else. It’s just like any other extraordinary life experience; there is a let down when you realize that what you did, and the people you did it with, can never be relived.  You kind of had to be there.” 
 


Name: Craig Webb
Branch of Service: Marine Corp
Years Served: 3
Military Job: Force Recon
Current Job: Professional Cyclist 

“It was expected that we could out run, out train and outsmart anyone that we encountered. We spent the bulk of our time on physical fitness training, military history education/tactics, and of course, weapons training. Force recon has one of the largest assemblies of weaponry known to any organized military group and we were expected to be able to disassemble, assemble and fire any weapon in that armory.”

“We did so many insane things in Force Recon!  A halo jump into a snowball near the Arctic Circle from 17,000 feet in the middle of the night or locking out of a nuclear submarine while it's underway in the ocean at night. These were the days before GPS and if you got separated it was just understood that you were going to die; because no one can find you in an ocean at night let alone in the daytime.” 
 


Name: Lisa Groleau
Branch of Service: Navy
Years Served: 10
Combat tours: 2
Military Job: Aviation Electrician on F-18’s and EA-6B’s
Current Job: Sales Manager at Bill Marsh Automotive 

“For me, the surreal everyday life of the Blue Angels was a lot to take in.  That was my last duty station and from a standing ovation at the Grand Ole Opry to being on the practice field with the Baltimore Ravens, or Seattle Seahawks, being on the mound at a Detroit Tigers game….it was just a crazy world.  You go to work to do your job in front of a couple hundred thousand people every day.  People are always asking for your picture or autograph and it didn’t matter that I wasn’t a pilot because I was a Blue Angel.  After that, and all of my previous experiences, I knew I had to get out of the military because it couldn’t get any better.  I felt like I had done it all and it was time to go home.” 
 


Name: Brian Barsheff
Branch of Service: Navy
Years Served: 4
Deployments: 5 Different Support Missions
Military Job: Aviation Support Technician 
Current Job: Owner/Operator at Modified Metals LLC

“The memories I have over the four years are weird. Some are good and some I want to erase from my mind. I always felt like I wanted to do more.  When we sent our Special Forces off to shore I wanted to go so bad.  I dreaded when they came back; when you looked in their eyes you saw a sense of emptiness.” 

“I also have funny memories too, like the time one of our guys showed up for a command uniform inspection and he made it clear to all of us that he was wearing the woman’s version of dress pants.  We could barely keep our junk together but he made it through the inspection without them even noticing.  Every moment in the military is different and it’s an entirely differing world than the one I currently live in.”  
 


Name: Jeff Brooks
Branch of Service: Navy/Army
Years Served: 10
Combat Tours: 1 Navy, 1 Army
Military Job: Navy: Flight Deck Coordinator Army: Explosive Ordinance Disposal
Current Job: Retired

“I have so many memories but this one stands out: I quit smoking in Iraq. One night I was sitting out on some sandbags back at our headquarters. We were allowed 15 minutes of phone time on a satellite phone every week and it was my turn. As the phone rang back home and I was waiting for my wife to pick up, I lit a cigarette and looked up at the quiet, starry sky. When she answered, I puffed on the cigarette and we talked about how she and our kids were doing. As we talked, I went through one cigarette and was on my second when she said told me my 3 year old daughter, Ally, wanted to talk to me. As she handed the phone to my daughter, the base started receiving mortar fire; explosions were going off around me about 100 meters away. But there was NO WAY I was getting off the phone before I heard my daughters voice. When she came on she simply said “Daddy, I don’t want you to die from smoking.” Just then, everything went silent. I couldn’t hear the explosions, I couldn’t hear my daughter; I was in my own little reality check. I looked at the cigarette and looked around at the explosions and replied back to her “no problem, honey, I just quit”… and haven’t smoked since.”

“Although our experiences may be different and somewhat dreadful at times it’s important for people to understand that veteran’s are normal people, with normal dreams and ambitions who voluntarily give up a part of themselves to do an extraordinary thing.  That thing regardless of the reason, is to serve their country.”
 


Name: Bonny Hall
Branch of Service: Air Force
Years Served: 8
Military Job: Security Police Specialist
Current Job: VP Operations at Monarch Home Health Services

“I suppose I like to think and feel that since it is a CHOICE we make to serve (many other countries have mandatory service requirements, which I also think has merits) that it is not entirely selfless, as we do get things in return for that service. However,  it is a choice that can have many different outcomes. Some of those come with losses of life and limb. I do not think I actually had the where with all to entirely understand that concept as a young adult. Life is precious, and when someone loses their life in the defense of others....well, it is almost incomprehensible. I mean, as a mother, no question. But, as a young service member it's a leap of faith. It should be honored and recognized. It’s hard to explain that we aren’t looking for recognition yet there is still something special that stands out about it.”

 

Name: John Edingfield
Branch of Service: Army
Years Served: 5
Military Job: Military Police
Current Job: Sales Associate at Genes Auto Parts

“I don’t have any sad or bad memories.  I thought that basic training was a blast.  I was 20 years old at the time so I was a little bit older than everyone else.  The first day that the Drill Sergeants were yelling at us was interesting.  They went into their office and were laughing at all of the stupid things they were making us do while we stood in formation.  I think that is when it dawned on me that they were just as human as the rest of us.  There was one guy who was always late for formation, which meant we got our butts kicked for it. One day we tied him to his bunk to teach him a lesson but when the Drill Sergeants found out we just ended up doing a million more pushups.  The military is just a different world.” 


M22 is thankful for everyone who was willing to share a small part of their experience and for all of the men and woman who have served. 

Thank you. 
 
 

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