Dodging into a Humvee in an attempt to avoid stray shrapnel and bullets is a rare experience for many college students, but Andrew Flint, a junior economics major,
had to do it everyday while he served in the National Guard in Iraq.
The call to duty has been answered by thousands of men and women who were deployed overseas to serve in the Iraq war, including undergraduates at Temple who work to balance their roles as both soldiers
Flint said he felt compelled to enlist after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Along with many of his friends, he decided to join the National Guard to aid the victims of the attacks.
“A bunch of my friends were already in the unit and they told me I had to do it because it was cool to help out people,” Flint said.
For Flint, the call to overseas duty came while he was in the shower at his home outside of Albany, N.Y.
“I knew something bad just happened,” Flint said, after hearing the phone ring.
Flint began his deployment to Iraq in October 2003 and stayed until February 2005.
After a three-day drive from Kuwait to Iraq, Flint said the desolate and war-torn Baghdad landscape had an impact on his mental adjustment to being a soldier.
“When we finally pulled into our base, we saw shrapnel pieces and bomb holes,” Flint said.
After slowly embracing the conditions of his new lifestyle, Flint said he became apt to the rugged atmosphere and living amongst the detrimental effects of war.
Nearly one-and-a-half years later, Flint, back in the United States, decided to continue his undergraduate studies at Temple. He said adapting to civilian life has been somewhat of a challenge, and he is aware that his college experience is different compared to other students.
“The hardest thing is waking up and not feeling like you did anything that day. When you’re fighting a war, you wake up whether you want to or not. When you go to bed you’re going to earn that sleep,” Flint said.
He said he remembers his life in Iraq as a time in which he made a difference.
“I’ve been home for a year-and-a-half and I still have that feeling that I’m not doing anything,” Flint said. “I often feel like it’s the biggest waste of time sitting around and going to school.”
Flint enrolled in the university for the fall 2005 semester and eventually wants to work for the FBI.
Flint said he has no regrets of serving in Iraq as a soldier. By serving, Flint said he has become emotionally empowered.
“Whenever I hear about somebody complaining about school work, … I would never complain about that stuff. I know what to really complain about,” Flint said.
Although the Iraq war is nearing its fourth year, many American troops are still being deployed, including students who live on Temple’s campus.
With his date for deployment quickly approaching, sophomore Theodore Stouch, a film and media arts major from central Pennsylvania, said he chose to enlist because he wants to balance his interest in the Army with continuing his collegiate studies.
Stouch, who is enlisted as a signal core, specializes in all major communications – electronic systems necessary within the Signal Regiment military. Enrolled as a scholarship recipient in Temple’s R.O.T.C program, Stouch said he has found his decision to enlist to be financially
beneficial for his education.
According to the benefits listed on the Army’s Web site, qualified applicants who serve for two or more years in any military occupational specialty can receive up to $8,000 toward their bachelor’s degree. High school graduates with 60 or more college semester hours can earn $6,000 and high school graduates with 30 to 59 college
semester hours can earn up to $3,000.
Stouch said his call for deployment was highly anticipated.
“I feel as though we’re doing a lot for the civilians over there. It’s ugly, but we’re trying. We have many rehabilitation
schools being built and we’re helping them out the best way we can,” Stouch said.
Planning to become an active-duty lieutenant, Stouch said he has worked hard to balance his life as a cadet and as a student.
“I’m putting [being a cadet] a little bit ahead, but in order to get [to Iraq], I have to do good in academics,” Stouch said.
“I try to balance them out as best as I can.”
Lt. Col. James Markert said there are certain qualities that help to define a good soldier.
“If you’re dependable, you’ll be able to achieve what we would consider to be the desired behavior for all of our army values,” Markert said.
“A lieutenant can’t be a lieutenant without degree,” Markert said, adding that the army values the academic education of every student enlisted.
Students deployed to Iraq can continue their educationthrough an online portal called Army Knowledge Online. AKO has a variety of languages and is available for students to use in completing online homework assignments.
Although being deployed can delay a student’s class status, Internet connection is available for enlisted overseas students to maintain their studies.
The Army continues to push enlistment, including a new campaign centering around the recently revealed new Army slogan, “Army Strong.”
Beth Bailey, a professor in the history department, is attempting to define the Army’s identity by writing her first book about armed forces’ advertising.
“The new slogan will well attract students because it shows the different kind of options the Army has to offer,” Bailey said.
Brittany Diggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.