Veterans Day is a day for us to slow down so that we can honor and celebrate the sacrifices of the brave men and women who selflessly served our nation. There are so many emotions that are tied into this special day, and I’m sure most people can agree with the sentiment I feel most when it comes to Veterans Day which is simply gratitude. Even then, I do not have the words to fully express the depth of my gratitude to these heroic people.
As I write this article, I think about the liberties that I am afforded, thanks to the brave soldiers who fought for my freedom and the freedom of this great nation. I am forever grateful, humbled, and honored to live amongst those who have served our country.
Among those who have fought for our country is Chris Rogers from Columbia. I had the amazing opportunity to interview him about his experience in the military. Keep reading to check out our interview!
What branch of the U.S. military did you serve in?
The U.S. Army. I enlisted on November 21, 1995.
Where did you serve during your time in the Army?
I served four tours in Baghdad, Iraq, two tours in Kabul Afghanistan, one tour in South Korea, and one tour in Liberia, Africa.
What do you remember most about deployment?
Lots and lots of sand. Excessive heat and Air Raid sirens.
How did you feel coming home from combat?
I felt very disconnected from family and friends. It was hard to explain what I did and saw.
Was military life different than you imagined it would be? If so, how?
It was much easier than I expected. Garrison life was just like any normal 9-5 job for the most part, but the training cycles were much more intense and deployments were always a strain on families.
How did your family respond to you joining the military?
My dad said I would never make it because I wasn’t tough enough and my mom, well, she worried a lot because that’s what moms do.
Is there anyone you remember fondly from your deployment? If so, who, and what made them special?
Denver Williams. He is still to this day my best friend and that deployment was 20 years ago. Denver always had my back and I never had to question his loyalty! Rodney Jarvis, a mentor and friend. We attended college classes together in my 3rd deployment to Iraq. He died the week after he put me on a plane to go home for leave.
What are some fun things y’all would do together when not in battle?
We played softball, volleyball, Texas hold’em, and always enjoyed our cookouts at night.
What is your best memory and your worst memory from serving?
The best would have to be going home each time. The worst would be the ambushes and attacks. Losing dear friends!
What do you wish civilians understood about military service?
I wish people knew and could understand the sheer amount of sacrifice each member of the military makes. We leave our families and go train and fight for our country. We were always underpaid and worked tremendous hours. It’s like no other job in the world. There is a lot of gratification in knowing that we did for our country what very few have done or will ever do.
How can we, as a country, better connect with and understand our veterans?
I think to connect with and understand veterans you must sit down and listen to them in a forum where the veterans can talk without being judged for the awful things they have to do and endure.
My heart swells with great pride, joy, and respect when writing stories like this. It is the sacrifices of people like Chris that make Veterans Day special. Remember that this day isn’t only about getting off work. It is a day to remember the blood, sweat, and tears that have been shed on behalf of this great country that you and I have the privilege of calling “home.” Take a minute this Saturday to thank a veteran like Chris.