Every Veteran’s Day is an opportunity to thank those who bravely served to keep our Country free. My husband and I spent some time together late Monday night viewing Facebook posts together of our military family and friends; all of us reflecting on past deployments. There is something about the comaraderie developed during difficult times, yet it is good to reflect on the people who were there with us during those times. Thankful for the “battle buddies” in our lives, for the military members and families who have sacrificed so much through the years and continue to do so, and for my hero! Here’s a few photos reflecting on Chris’ deployment to Afghanistan.
In time for Christmas of 2013, members of the Nebraska National Guard Agribusiness Development Team 4 (NE ADT4) returned home to their families from Afghanistan. While the NE ADT missions were concluded, lasting impacts in the lives of the Afghan people will hopefully remain for years to come.
Our military worked to “win the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people by helping them learn how to grow their own food and provide for their families. You can read more in this post about their missions and ultimately the efforts to train the extension faculty to take the research they were conducting to the people of Afghanistan so their lives could be improved. This is what Cooperative Extension in the United States does every day for our citizens!
It has been an honor to work beside the men and women defending our Country and our freedom! It was also a blessing to have a unique insight to the missions and accomplishments of these teams as a military wife serving at home while my husband served with NE ADT2.
Beginning with three UNL Extension faculty providing reach-back to NE ADT1 in 2008, an ADT Training Team grew to over 60 individuals from UNL Extension and Research, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA National Agroforestry Service, UNO’s Center for Afghanistan Studies, and the Nebraska Corp of Army Engineers providing pre-deployment agricultural training followed by reach-back during deployment for NE ADT2-4.
Since this was the conclusion of this effort, I wished to share a few of the impacts our military shared with me via a survey sent to 27 military members from NE ADT1-4 (n=14 respondents).
- 93% agreed or strongly agreed that the training received from the ADT training team prior to deployment helped prepare them with information needed during deployment.
- 93% agreed or strongly agreed that the reach-back they received from the ADT Training Team was timely and helpful.
- “The help that I received from the UNL extension was priceless. I am very thankful for their support and guidance.”
- “…All supporting staff instantly responded to our questions which enabled us to provide feedback to the local Afghan Extension Agents, political reps and the general population.”
- “During my time in Afghanistan…we had a built in reach-back with Mr. Vaughn Hammond being with us…”
- “The information provided by UNL Extension and training partners helped us help approximately 10,000 Afghans with crop and livestock projects.”
In their own words….
We often don’t hear about the great impacts our military members have on the Afghan people while they are deployed. Here are just a few of the many stories in their own words as they share the importance of partnerships during deployment.
I was in constant contact it seemed with a couple members of the UNL extension. Their support guidance and assistance was immeasurable. I received training material from the Beef Basics course for classes I taught to Afghan college students and constantly received ideas and assistance from the extension members.
Drawing on some of the education provided on water resource management, I identified a dam that was in danger of failing..threatening the village below. Emergency efforts were then made to shore up the dam. The livestock and poultry education gave us the base from which to provide training, in turn, to the Afghan people using, in my case, the Center for Educational Excellence (CEE) in Sharana, Paktika. A highlight for me was a series of training on livestock vaccination (FAMACHA) conducted in remote sites – even on a mountain side – in eastern Paktika.
ADT 1 received direction, websites, hard copy fliers, books, and additional training information through mail, email and correspondence. The farm and machinery safety information was vital to the development of an “Operator’s Maintenance / Safety” video and handbook that we developed for the Afghan farmers. But just simply bouncing ideas back and forth was much more beneficial than anything else for me. I’m just so glad that future ADT’s saw the need and developed a plan to initiate Extension and the ADT Training team into their in-state training!
The initial training, relationships created and reach back capability had a direct effect on the success of our mission. I am proud to have had such an excellent working relationship with UNL and the ADT training team during our deployment.
During our time in Afghanistan we made a train the trainer program for the Ag Extension Agents and DAIL staff to utilize. A lot of the material that was given to us and from our training were put into the training program.
The NRCS training we received in Texas pre-deployment gave us a good idea of the terrain, crops and irrigation practices. Agroforestry helped in identifying tree species. The Nemaha NRD assisted by providing a template of their Tree Program which we started in the Paktya Province with their MAIL & Extension Agents. UNL Extension was vital to our success in many ways by providing an Extension Educator (Vaughn Hammond) as well as advice on many relevant topics. Our mission success would not been as great without the support of UNL Extension and the ADT training team.
Video released from the Department of Defense. With everything going on in the world, I don’t have much else to say right now…except this. Today I’m remembering those who lost loved ones on 9/11/01 in my prayers. I’m praying for the many military members still serving this great country away from their families today-and praying for their families serving bravely without them on the home-front. I’m so thankful for those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom. And through everything going on right now, God is in control and has a plan and purpose for all. May God continue to bless the U.S.A. and may we never forget 9/11/2001!
Every time the Remembering Our Fallen Memorial was mentioned, I would get goose bumps. Every time I would mention it was coming to our Clay County Fair, my eyes would moisten.
Our Extension Office moved out to the Fair early on Wednesday so we could be ready to stand with flags while the Memorial was escorted to our Fair. The loud roar of motorcycles approaching was soon followed by an amazing site of over 40 Patriot Riders from Omaha to Hastings escorting the Memorial to our Fair. It was incredibly touching watching them ride in. Local TV and newspaper crews were on hand to capture the event. July 11th would mark 9 years since the passing of Clay County residents Jeremy Fischer and Linda Tarango-Griess due to a roadside bomb in Iraq.
That day I just observed the scene from a distance. I knew I needed time alone to go through the Memorial later. That time came Sunday morning as it was quiet at the Fair.
Over 80 service men and women from Nebraska have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Joshua Mann was younger than me, but attended the same high school that I did. Patrick Hamburger was in the Chinook Helicopter group that often flew into the base my husband was stationed at in Afghanistan in 2011. Jacob Schmuecker was married to a gal I group up with in my home-town church. I didn’t know Jeremy Fischer or Linda Tarango-Griess but many in Clay County and the area did.
This Memorial is striking and different because it’s about viewing the faces of the fallen. There are other pictures added of their lives and people leave additional tributes at the Memorial as well. Scanning the QR codes to watch the tribute videos and reading letters left behind by moms, spouses, relatives, friends, coaches, and fellow service-members brought me to tears. We must never forget that freedom is not free!
A special thanks to Laurie Jarzynka and her family for organizing the honor escort and getting this Memorial at our Fair. I will leave you with a video I captured of the Memorial. May we never forget those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Freedom and the families left behind! God bless all our men and women in uniform and their families and God bless the U.S.A.!