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On the bright side

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Amber R. Kelly-Herard
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
We've all heard the briefings on resiliency.

At home station, resiliency comes easier, because I have my husband and daughter to lean on. I know that no matter how bad of a day I am having, seeing the two of them at the end of the day always makes me happy.

When I was tasked for my deployment I felt prepared, I knew there were going to be rough patches, but I would get through it.

I started off at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, which at its peak was one of the largest bases in Iraq. By the time I got there, a lot of things had started to close down or relocate, but there were still a lot of amenities there. There was still a pool, theater and some fast food.

As the base started to near its transition date, we were told repeatedly that times were going to get expeditionary and we would have to be more resilient. Hearing those statements always brought some gripes and groans, but each time something was lost, the base kept pushing.

When we turned in computers, we learned to share with those who had computers and when vehicles were turned in, we carpooled. Each time we were faced with something, we found a different way to do our job with less. Anticipation was felt because we knew that less stuff meant we were one step closer to handing JB Balad over to the government of Iraq.

My deployment is unusual because I got two locations for the price of one deployment.

The notice came that, rather than continuing to stay with JB Balad to the end, I would be forward deploying to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

I was pretty nervous of this because this was going to be extremely expeditionary.

When I arrived at my new location, I was very impressed with how fast the facilities had been established in such a short time. By the time I got here, the dining facility was already serving three hot meals a day and a barbershop and beauty shop had already been opened.

Something that is not established though is Wi-Fi. There are limited computers with Internet that can be used for 10 minutes at a time and phones that can be used for 15 minutes at a time. This was a big change coming from a base where I talked to my family every day.

This is when I learned the true meaning about resiliency.

Despite the conditions, the location seems to be handling it well. The first night I got here, as I was taking my many bags out of a vehicle, two girls approached me and I thought I was in their way. I apologized for being in their way and they told me that I wasn't in their way and they wanted to help me with my bags. I was so surprised by this and have continued to be surprised.

Everyone here smiles and says hi to each other. Also, since we can't all communicate with our families, I notice more people sit around and talk to each other. As the gym is still a work in progress, more people are running together. I have even seen people from different units come together to move furniture.

I think there is a mutual feeling here about everyone helping each other. All of us came here with many uncertainties, but we are all trying to help make this location as good as possible because that's what people do. Whenever there is a set back, someone finds another way to still get the job done.

It has been an excellent example of what it means to be Airmen first and our Air Force Specialty Code second. I think we have been, by definition, resilient here by seeking out the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives.