There is now an empty office around the corner from mine.

Yesterday, one of my coworkers went on leave. She is in the Air Force Reserves and is being deployed to Afghanistan for four months. Until now, I have never known anyone who went to either Iraq or Afghanistan while I knew them. I’ve met plenty of veterans of both wars, but this is the first time that someone I know personally and see nearly every day has deployed.

Now I’m worried.

I told her to be careful, and she said, “Oh yeah! I’m going to do what they tell me to do, stand where they tell me to stand, and not go anywhere I’m not supposed to!” She has young kids. Their mom is going to be gone all summer and still be gone when school starts back.

At least she’s in the Air Force. That should be safer.

One of the many issues with both of our recent wars is that such a low percentage of the population of the U.S. has a direct connection to someone who has served in them. For most of us, no one we know personally has gone. So we’re not paying attention as closely as we might, and before we know it, ten years have gone by. And we don’t have as much invested in what happens there as we might. I am sorry to say that was true for me until now.

I don’t come from a military family. My uncle, who passed away several years ago, was a pilot in WWII. That’s it. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, during Vietnam, and I remember the draft and the lottery based on birth dates. When the list came out, my best friend and I grabbed the newspaper to find her older brother’s number. It wasn’t low, and he never had to go.

During the Vietnam war, it was on TV every night. I remember the body counts, and reporters in the jungle. I also remember the protests. I remember the Kent State shootings very clearly. I was 13. That was 42 years ago yesterday.

Now you can listen to entire newscasts that don’t mention Afghanistan. That’s largely because of the TV coverage of Vietnam, I know.

One thing is for sure. I’ll be paying much closer attention to the news from Afghanistan now.

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