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Old 06-30-2008, 10:49 AM   #1
Ryan Saul
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Off to Iraq

I am in the Individual Ready Reserves and have been for a couple years now. I received a packet the other day from the Army human resources command. I am less then two months from my ETS so I thought it was possibly some out processing paperwork. It turns out that they are deployment orders and I am to report for mobilization processing 15 days before my ETS. To say the least this was shock. My wife and I have taken the past few days and with a lot of prayer have come to the realization of what is happening. We've been able to be pretty positive, all things considered. I am prepared to go do what I have to do and come home. I feel strangely comfortable about the situation and I think I owe a lot to CrossFit for that. I'm sure many of you know from experience but the thing that bothers me the most is the feeling of leaving my family. My kids aren't old enough to be sat down and explained the situation, but they are old enough to know that Daddy's gone. I feel awful about leaving my wife and I can't help at times not to feel guilty, like I am abandoning them.

I know this is something that needs to be done and I will serve my country with pride. My wife has been a rock and has made things easier for me. God definitely has a reason for doing this and one day we'll know why.

I do have some questions for some of our veterans. My deployment packet doesn't have a lot of information. I know that some dates and locations won't be known until I need to know them, but some of the more simple things are not hit on at all in the packet. What would you guys recommend bringing besides the obvious(toothpaste, uniforms, etc.)? I am planning on bringing a jump rope and a set of rings. As far as comfort items what should I bring? a computer? ipod? books?

Any advice on what to expect would be great. One of the hardest things with this situation is the unknown.

Is the REFRAD date on my orders a real date that will be followed or does it not mean anything?

Thanks in advance. Sorry that I had to let some of you know this way but it is easier than making a bunch of phone calls.

Last edited by Ryan Saul; 06-30-2008 at 10:56 AM..
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:11 AM   #2
Randy Tarasevich
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Re: Off to Iraq

Good luck and godspeed Ryan.
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:25 AM   #3
Alan Kalbarczyk
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Re: Off to Iraq

After talking to you Im kinda feeling bummed..

What ever I can do just let me know call at any time day or night.

Road sodas and junk food before you go...
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:53 AM   #4
Camille Lore
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Re: Off to Iraq

Best wishes for a safe return. We'll be thinking of you.
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:55 AM   #5
George Mounce
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Re: Off to Iraq

Having been to Iraq & Afghanistan many times I can suggest a few things.

BABY WIPES. They are so underrated its impossible to tell you how good they feel on day 3 without a shower.

DISPOSABLE CAMERA. You want to record your history in doing something for your country, and what better than pictures to remember your time spent.

WRITE A JOURNAL. This is an amazing tool to keep your head in the game, I often wonder why people don't do this.

MAKE FRIENDS. You'll all be in it together, making friends helps it go by.

TAKE CARE OF ALL PERSONAL THINGS BEFORE YOU GO. There is nothing worse than seeing people try and take care of crap while deployed. I'm not one to be an *** about things, but if you're happily married, keep it that way. If its on the rocks heading towards divorced, you'll be divorced by the time you get back and you shouldn't be worrying about that crap while bullets are whizzing by. Sounds to me its good, so make a video tape for your kids with you in it. WRITE HOME. If you can make videos and send them home. Your kids need their dad in their life and contact in any form is good whether its you talking to them on the phone or them watching a video.

STAY IN SHAPE. Get small workouts in when you can. If you are in a camp, hit their gym.

FEAR CAMEL SPIDERS. Those things are gross, I don't care what people say. I know they are considered good luck, but I've watched enough of them chase people....ew.

Sit down and talk to your wife and realize that its going to be just as hard on her as it will be for you. So because of that, don't compound the problem by bringing your bad day on her, and vice versa. My wife and I keep things simple and have always been encouraging while I've been gone. Right now I'm in TX and she's in MS, while we are both in the US, having an pregnant wife and not seeing her for most of the pregnancy is very frustrating for her. So I send flowers (an EXCELLENT idea at any time), talk to her as much as I can and we keep it going.
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Old 06-30-2008, 12:09 PM   #6
Adrian Bozman
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Re: Off to Iraq

Come back safe, Ryan.

-Boz
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Old 06-30-2008, 12:56 PM   #7
Monique T. Ames
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Re: Off to Iraq

Ryan,
I am shocked that this happened so close to your ETS. Like George said, bring something to take photos and video with. Important to send back to the family to re-assure them that you are okay (whether it's true or not).

Honestly, if you need anything at all Ryan, please call me.
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Old 07-01-2008, 04:11 AM   #8
Matthew Govea
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Re: Off to Iraq

Other than laptop and camera, I wouldn't worry about what to bring until you get a better idea of what kind of living conditions you'll be in. In Iraq they can vary greatly. Some folks go days without showers and others go to the pool everyday. The mail system has improved a lot, so shipping stuff over is an option. At the post office, there are 2 types of priority boxes that have a flat rate of about 10 bucks regardless of weight. My girlfriend uses those all the time. Also, APO addresses require the same postage as in the states, not extra like most people assume. I use and recommend Skype for talking on webcam and also because you can set it up with a local phone number so people can call you, leave messages or you can call them. Very handy for things like talking to a bank without waiting in line at one of the MWR call centers and the money you put into it goes a long way.

I completely agree with the point made earlier about squaring away your personal affairs with your wife. That and constant communication with the family are 2 crucial tasks. Writing and sending gifts are very important. It gives them something very tangible to hold on to. Make sure to send something to each one individually too. You'd be surprised how much mileage my son got out of a card I sent him that folded into a fire truck.

Your wife needs to think about what kind of support structure she has already and who is in it. If she is very independent, then this is much less of an issue. People can sometimes be very supportive for the first 2 weeks of a deployment, then not a word from them the rest of the time. Just something to be aware of.

!!!!No news = good news!!!!
That doesn't mean don't watch the news. It means if she doesn't hear from you, everything is fine. Her schedule and yours may have conflicted for a day or two, internet may be out, might be a 24hr ban on internet, etc. These things will happen, it doesn't mean your hurt or your ignoring your family. IF something happens, she will find out pretty quickly through you or somebody with you. Most of the news sources coming out of Iraq are iffy at best until well after the incident. No sense in worrying about something she sees on the news, if you were hurt she'd probably be one of the first to know. It's hard not to worry, but it's important that it's not at every bad picture or story on TV. It'll drive her nuts.

Good luck and I hope your orders are rescinded when you go through your deployment buildup, but it's best to mentally prepare yourself to go through with it.

P.S. It sucks trying to CF over here with no bumper plates, bring some rings and an abmat at least.
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Last edited by Matthew Govea; 07-01-2008 at 04:22 AM.. Reason: Clarify the "no news" part.
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Old 07-01-2008, 05:42 AM   #9
Ryan Saul
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Re: Off to Iraq

Thanks for all the advice and support. Our family is being super supportive about everything. I don't know how many people have said that if Rachel and the kids need anything then don't hesitate to call. We've gotten over the initial shock and have been able to deal pretty well. Our marriage has been built on a very solid foundation. We know that this will probably be the toughest thing we will have to go through but we also know that God doesn't set people up for failure.

I have gotten a lot of great advice from people here and from friend and family. I think I've had three or four people tell me to make videos. Everyone has said to bring a laptop. I've also been told to bring a comfortable pillow, books, a gps, and a lot of other things. Thanks again.

Ryan
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Old 07-01-2008, 06:01 AM   #10
John Maloney
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Re: Off to Iraq

1. Local mattresses are awful. #1 best thing is a comfortable rack. Get a memory foam mattress for a twin sized bed (or cal-king sized & fold in half = twice the thickness.) You may have to buy it & have your wife mail it but it is totally worth it.

2. Extension cord + power strip. You'll have to buy a power converter once you arrive - don't worry there are lots available at the PX or from people leaving.

3. Electronic bug/flea repeller (plug in type from hardware store) - sand flies will bite you between your fingers & toes when you sleep. It really itches & can give you leishmaniasis. I never saw these bastards but they bit the hell out of me until I got this thing in the mail.

4. iPod/DVD player - all good depending on what you like. You can order stuff from amazon easily & there are a ton of cheap black-market dvd's to watch, so I wouldn't bring a big collection -cept what's on your ipod. I wouldn't bring books - too heavy & take up space. You can buy tv's/xbox's etc. when you get settled in. I'm a big ipod fan myself.

5. One nice pair of (authorized/black) sunglasses. The more coverage the better. I got the new Oakley Radars & they're great except during dust storms (they still don't cut it when it's blowing). Wrap-arounds like my old Arnette Ravens are the best.

6. Under Armour Men's HeatGear 6" Boxer Jock - for the heat/chaffing. I've got 6 pair. For me these are a requirement.

7. You might try their socks too, but I'm not too particular when it comes to these. I was issued really nice moisture-wicking t-shirts, so you won't have to spend money on those.

8. You won't need civilian clothes besides what you'll want at mob station - and that may be nothing depending you your command.

Send me an email to w/ your unit & I'll see if I can track you on this end. You REFRAD date should be solid. I'll PM you my work email. Send me the details & I'll see what I can tell you.
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