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First Day of the Blog

Just a reminder, this is the first blog entry which means that it is the oldest. I reversed the order so it could be read like a book. Think of it as Chapter 1.

Today is the first day of my blog from beautiful Kabul, Afghanistan. I decided to start this blog because I have had such an overwhelming response from all of the wonderful people that have written me through Soldier's Angels and Any Soldier. I have received so many letters and care packages from people back home that I thought that it would be a great way for everyone to keep in touch. I have received mail from class rooms, senior centers, and people young and old throughout the U.S.. I had no idea that there was so many wonderful people out there. I encourage you to post a comment. I would like to know what you think of my site.

I decided to title my blog 6 Months In Kabul for obvious reasons. I actually today I only have 19 weeks, or 137 days, or 3,197 hours or 191,823 minutes left, but who is counting. In case you were wondering what a shazdoc is, I am not sure either. I was told by one of the students that writes to me that being a doctor is the shaz. I thought that it was a really funny word and it gave me a good laugh when I heard it. She guarantees me that it is a good thing.

For those of you that do not already know, I am a Family Practice physician. I was told one fateful day in June, while I was busy with a full schedule of patients, that I needed to pack my bags because I was going to deploy to Kabul, Afghanistan for 6 months. Of course, my initial response was shock, then I have to admit, a small bit of grief, then later I decided that like any other challenge in life, you just have to make the best of it.

My favorite quote of all time was from Richard Nixon's final farewell speech from Aug 8th, 1974:
"It is only a beginning, always. The young must know it; the old must know it. It must always sustain us, because the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes and you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes, because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain. "

Yes, I was in that deep valley for a short while because, after all, I was going to be away from my family for 6 months and, like everyone else, I had heard of all the really bad things that were going on over here.

I had a week to gather my stuff and fly off to Fort Riley, Kansas where I spent 2 months preparing for my deployment. At Fort Riley I did a lot of Army basic training. I got qualified on a lot of different weapons, I learned to drive a HUMVEE, operate radios, practiced convoy exercises, land navigation and many other combat related activities. I also had a number of Dari classes and "Leader Meets" where we practiced the art of communicating with Afghan nationals through the use of an interpreter. The Army tried to make the training as realistic as possible. We regularly heard Muslim prayer through a loud speakers and we even had a number of exercises where locals from the community were dressed as Afghans. There was also a "Heat Trainer" which is a real HUMVEE that is rigged to spin 360' to prepare us for a rollover.

I arrived in Kabul in Aug after a short stop at Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan. I am currently staying at Camp Phoenix. The best way I could describe this base is it is very flat with wall-to-wall concrete. It has a ton of small wooden houses staked in real close (we call them B-huts). It gets very dusty at times especially when helicopters fly in. Outside the base the landscape somewhat reminds me of Phoenix, AZ but with a lot more pollution. Camp Phoenix is actually one of the better bases. It has a lot of very nice amenities. I hesitate to mention all of them because I afraid that everyone will stop sending me care packages when they learn how nice it is over here. : )

I work with 3 other really nice people, one of them is also a doctor and the other 2 work in health care related jobs. Our mission is to open up a new clinic. We recently toured their old clinic. Their current clinic does not even have running water! The clinic will not only be available to the police but also to their family members as well. I know that when it opens it will have a big impact on their lives. I am really proud to be a part of this mission.

I hope you enjoy this blog. Please feel free to add a comment if you like.

This post first appeared on 6 Months In Kabul, please read the originial post: here

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First Day of the Blog


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