Tag Archives: deployment

The Road to Recovery

By Retired Master Sgt. Daniel Waugh

Archery
Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Waugh, draws his bow back during training for the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games being held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. , June 19-28, 2015. Waugh is competing in shooting and archery in this year’s games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

My story began in 2006 the day after Christmas while I was on my third deployment to Iraq as a tactical air control party Airman. My team and I were on patrol in Sadr City, Iraq, completing a blocking operation for a special operations team that was on a mission.

As we provided protection for the special operations team, there was a blast from a rocket propelled grenade launcher that hit my vehicle and knocked me out of the turret. We all were fine, but while my team was EXFIL-ing (removing personnel from a hostile environment), we were hit again. Next thing I know, I woke up and was lying on the ground. I have never really spoken about this.

One of the guys in my truck was killed. My driver lost his leg, and I woke up fine.

So I thought.

After the deployment, I came home and enjoyed life for five months before I was tasked to deploy again. Little did I understand the injuries I had suffered. I sustained a brain injury and a broken back, and I blew out my right ear drum, which left me with significant balance issues (not allowing me to run anymore or walk quickly).

Through a friend of a friend, I was able to meet athletes from the Wounded Warrior Program. I always knew there was a program specifically for wounded warriors, but I never knew the full extent of the adaptive sports program. So I went to see what this was all about.

I thought I had recovered; I thought I was resilient. I mean, I went back to a war zone three times after getting blown up. I thought nothing could faze me.

In February 2015, I went to an Air Force Wounded Warrior camp known as ”Trials,” three months after having back surgery. On day one, I wanted go home as I decided this wasn’t for me.

Although I wanted to leave, I stuck it out for two days, and I made the team. However, I started to realize I hadn’t recovered. It had been eight years since getting injured, and I never knew that I was still struggling with things. Slowly, I eventually began to open up to people on the team. This is when my healing process began.

Robin Hood
Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Waugh, celebrates hitting a “Robin Hood” during his archery practice at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games being held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. , June 19-28, 2015. A “Robin Hood” is when the archer hits another arrow of theirs dead on into the end of the arrow on the target. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

Because I made the team, I was able to work and meet additional athletes at a training camp held at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in preparation for the Warrior Games. This is when I met the amazing people of the Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Program. This is when it clicked.

There are pillars of resiliency, and socially I wasn’t there. I had dealt physically, mentally, spiritually, etc., but socially, I had shut out the Air Force. I began to open up more socially in the Air Force and speak to the other members of the wounded warrior team. I started to hear their stories and get to actually know the other people, realizing I wasn’t alone. That is when I realized how great the Wounded Warrior Program is, and I began to put myself back together.

Now I am here today getting ready to compete in the Warrior Games, and I’m still progressing in my healing process.

It has been a long road to get here. I know everyone has his or her own struggles and road to travel. There are people in different stages; it can take years to really feel like you are there. But I am here, and I didn’t think I was going to be here. But I am happy that I am.

What personal readiness means to me

By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

One of the biggest challenges facing the Air Force today is maintaining operational readiness and warfighting capabilities to meet the requirements of combatant commanders. The statement above includes many “strategic” words we hear from leadership at commander’s calls and other events, but they should impact every Airman wearing the uniform. All of us are work to accomplish the mission daily, which ensures the Air Force is ready to fight and win the nation’s wars.

Air Force senior leaders have the daunting task of getting us the right equipment and resources to meet and exceed the nation’s expectations. But, as Airmen, we are responsible for getting our personal readiness aligned with our leader’s strategies and vision for the future.

For me, personal readiness encompasses performing my job to the best of my ability and making sure my family and other aspects of my personal life are in order so I’m always ready to deploy or go on temporary duty assignments. This can be a difficult if you try to tackle it all at once, but I’ve found that breaking it down into groups of smaller tasks has helped me more easily manage work and family issues. When you have a plan to sync up your Air Force and personal responsibilities, it will help you reach your goal of attaining personal readiness that’s good for you, your family, the Air Force and the nation.

Continue reading What personal readiness means to me

The Real Unsung Heroes

By Senior Master Sgt. Kevin R. Shane
20th Reconnaissance Squadron

In the fast paced tempo of today’s operational environment, I’m often thousands of miles away from home due to temporary duties, deployments or training.

As I am off doing what I have loved for over twenty-five years at various locations, I find myself asking: Do I thank my spouse and family enough, or even at all?

Did I thank them for everything they do for me and this great country? Did I thank them for the numerous sacrifices they have made while allowing me to take care of the Air Force mission and the people I am responsible for? Continue reading The Real Unsung Heroes

We are all pieces of the puzzle

By Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez
445th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Although I grew up near a military base, the thought of joining the military never crossed my mind. While I was in high school, my cousin joined the U.S. Marine Corps, and when he returned home from boot camp it seemed as if a new person stood before me. He was my height, but seemed to walk taller and was proud in his Marine Corps dress blues. I was fascinated by his stories of traveling and, most importantly, the fact that he was part of something bigger than himself.

Continue reading We are all pieces of the puzzle