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What’s it really like to be deployed overseas? 5 things that might surprise you

Army insider shares his perspective

Maximillian Boudreaux is on the far left. He provides some insight regarding what it's really like to serve overseas.
Maximillian Boudreaux is on the far left. He provides some insight regarding what it's really like to serve overseas. (Maximillian Boudreaux/Graham Media Group)

If you’re spending some time this Veterans Day thinking about the military, what it’s like to serve our country or you’re honoring a loved one who performed a stint in the armed forces, you’re likely not alone.

Military is top of mind for many people, especially considering Veterans Day is a federal holiday.

So, what does serving in the military really look like?

Of course, there’s no “one size fits all” answer here, but intern Maximillian Boudreaux helped provide the following insights. We’ll let him tell the rest of this story, based on his own experience.

Here’s Max: I’m currently serving in the Illinois Army National Guard in the logistics department, and I would love to become a commissioned officer in the future. I deployed to Iraq in 2003 in support of Operation of Iraqi Enduring Freedom. In honor of today, here are five things that will likely surprise you about the military lifestyle.


Serving in the Iraq War.
Serving in the Iraq War. (Maximillian Boudreaux/Graham Media Group)

1. Soldiers really want their mail every day, and we love receiving packages.

Because soldiers are often homesick, these letters and packages are one of the only ways we can communicate with our loved ones.

2. Generally, a deployment only lasts a year -- nothing more than that.

A myth is that soldiers sometimes spend a lifetime overseas. That’s not true. A typical deployment usually will be one year, and then the soldier returns home.

3. United Service Organizations and other groups do their best to make a deployment pleasurable.

For example, they brought Burger King to Iraq while I was there, but they also bring celebrities and other activities to make sure soldiers can enjoy the experience.

4. Deployments circumstances change each time.

When I was in Iraq, we’d just gotten access to cable TV -- and that was the first time I saw Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” video, but the next time around, when my good friend returned to Iraq, he claimed they had dorms and internet.

5. At the beginning of the Iraq War, it was a job for soldiers to burn feces in the burn pit.

And it was awful, because you could smell the feces burning, and it smelled up the whole post.

Bonus item: Another common misconception is that soldiers are allowed to take military weapons home.

The truth of the matter is, rifles are considered sensitive items, and these items are heavily secured while in the possession of soldiers.

While in Iraq, a soldier lost a weapon, and my unit made us look for the weapon until it was found.


Happy Veterans Day to all of my battle buddies who have served, and to the ones still serving.


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