I just stepped off the plane for my first active duty tour in Iraq. It is 2003 and I am taking my first steps in Kuwait.
I hear people speaking in a language that I cannot understand.
I feel overwhelmed. As soon as we land, everything is fast paced.
I worry that I might not be able to process things quickly in a combat setting, due to my learning disability and crippling fear.
I touch my equipment that is strapped to me because it is the only thing that makes me feel secure.
I taste unbearably hot air as I try to breathe. With my asthma, I am having trouble breathing and getting accustomed to the dry heat. There is no shade to be found.
I wonder if this will be the last country that I will step in and if I will ever make it back to my home country. I am feeling so scared.
I see the other soldiers who all look like they are trying to be brave, too. Every time I see people or vehicles, I am scared. Everything is unknown and I was taught to treat everything unknown as a potential threat.
I smell an unknown smell in the air. I cannot figure out what the smell is, but it makes me feel like I am in a place different from where I have ever been before. It seems alien to me.
I think every person is hostile and every vehicle is dangerous.
I fear being around any local people, including children, because they could all be threats.
Everything can change in a day.