What does it mean to be a modern war fighter? And a woman? As a young military officer I deployed to a remote, rural Afghan province and found myself in a personal fog of war. I wrote these three pieces during my deployment to share a slice of our mission.
Bedazzaling Babagok: The first outside the wire mission is always the hardest—or is it? My first trek beyond the walls of our forward operating base in Zabul province brought me face-to-face with an unexpected mission.
A Table in the Presence: Patrolling the streets of Afghanistan showed me an entirely different face of the war, from inside my own unit to the Afghan people we were protecting.
Operation Wroorwali: The idea of brotherhood became a core tenant for the reconstruction work I was a part of in Afghanistan. My first shura, or village meeting, taught me the true strength of a woman among a brotherhood.
Though my primary role as an Information Operations officer with Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul was working within the military and alongside the US Department of State, USAID, and the Afghan government on communication efforts, I also reviewed hundreds of images for public release to help share the military story. And once in a while I contributed my own photos, as seen in this Department of Defense photo essay: Provincial Reconstruction Team Supports Afghan Bridge Reconstruction.
After completing my military service I was compelled to continue writing about my small part in the military story.
Among the Scarred was written as a part of a writing workshop hosted at the College of William & Mary. The workshop has since grown into a non-profit, the Armed Services Arts Partnership, which offers "supportive arts programs at no cost to service members, veterans, and military families by partnering with artists, arts organizations, and colleges located in areas with high military and veteran populations."
Dual-military families was written for the US Air Force's official blog on the experience of being a military officer married to another military officer. This seems to run in my family, as two of my sisters also married military men, and all six of us previously served in combat. Thankfully for my parents, it wasn't all at the same time.
This photo, taken by Senior Airman Nathanael Callon, was selected for special publication in 2011 in the US Air Force's Airman Magazine as part of the photo essay Ten Years at War. Out of thousands of images from a decade of conflict in Afghanistan, Callon's work was chosen to show a one aspect of the Provincial Reconstruction Team work that takes place throughout the country.
US Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Nathanael Callon
US Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Nathanael Callon
Politics can be ugly. The mix of military and politics can be even uglier. But as a second lieutenant I found myself in the middle of one of the most beautiful collaborations between those two entities: the presidential inauguration. When Barack Obama was first sworn in as America's president on that bitterly cold January day in 2009, I was lucky enough to be there, and it had nothing to do with where I had cast my vote. I wasn't among the million people packed onto the Mall or among the powerful people seated on the platform. I was just inside the doors to the Capitol where America's new president was waiting to walk out and swear his allegiance to us and the Constitution. Politics aside, being inside the Capitol on such a day was extraordinary. My job had been to write the announcer's script for the president's swearing-in ceremony, which gave me an incredible spot to witness history. Here are two stories that give a look behind the scenes on Obama's big day.
US Air Force Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Meneguin
Photo by Callie Shell
In the News
My previous work as a spokesperson, media representative, and public affairs officer for the US military took me across America and throughout the world to help tell the military's story. I have prepared, coordinated and executed successful interviews with subject matter experts across all media platforms, and I remain passionate about helping individuals and organizations tell their story through diverse media platforms. Review a sample of my experience here.
I've worked across media platforms, including print, radio, digital and broadcast news to bring the story of the US Air Force to various audiences.
The Borgen Project
I have long been driven to be a part of a bigger mission, something that extends beyond my reach and touches the lives of those who don't have a voice. Volunteering as a writer for The Borgen Project helped me do just that after I left military service. The Borgen Project works to fight extreme poverty with an innovative campaign to make this issue an important part of US foreign policy. It's been heralded by The Huffington Post as "an incredible nonprofit organization that is addressing poverty and hunger and working towards ending them.” Here is a collection of articles I wrote for their team, which focused on innovative, sustainable projects that help the developing world.
I had the pleasure of working at the Reves Center for International Studies at the College of William & Mary. As the Communications Associate there, I oversaw all communications regarding international affairs and international studies for the Reves Center. I performed various roles including webmaster, writer, editor, public relations manager and social media director. I also directed the development and production of varied print and digital media, including a biannual magazine, and implemented strategic marketing and communications plans. Additionally, I held was helping coordinate and support internationally focused events, programs and initiatives throughout the university community and with its partners, such as the Presidential Precinct and the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations.
Here is a sample of my work at the College of William & Mary.
I was privileged to partake in one of the Armed Services Art Partnerships first Veteran Writing Workshops held at the College of William & Mary. Thanks to ASAP, I published and performed a short piece, Among the Scarred, about my military experience.
Since then, ASAP has grown to include music and comedy classes for veterans and military families. Their mission is to help these individuals thrive in their communities through arts classes and performances.
An Editor's Eye
Editing and proofreading are often afterthoughts, but I relish the opportunity to review and edit any work of writing to publish clear, distinct content. Here are three projects where I provided editorial and proofreading services.
One of my favorite things about being a writer and editor is having the opportunity to constantly learn about new subjects. I recently began contributing to a client's blog called Beautifully Brave. This collection of articles helps the modern woman navigate life with style, and includes articles on subjects like relationships, health, fashion and empowerment.