I'm a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom 5 and Operation Iraqi Freedom 9-11; I completed two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Army and received several Army Commendation Medals, several Army Achievement Medals and a Combat Action Badge (which very few females have earned).
My first deployment (in 2007) was spent in Kirkuk, an oil-rich city of Northern Iraq. I served as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives expert (that was seriously my job title).
My 2008-2009 deployment sent me all over the Salah ad-Din Province of Iraq; I spent time in Tikrit and Tuz as a Public Affairs Officer and covered news stories as our battalion's journalist.
While deployed to Iraq, I also attended Thomas Edison State (online, of course) to work toward a degree in journalism. My military education includes Technical Escort, Biological Integrated Detection Systems and Battlefield Forensics. I am certified in Confined Space Rescue, Transportation of Hazardous Materials and I am a certified Hazardous Materials Technician and OSHA First Responder.
I have earned a Good Conduct Medal, several Certificates of Achievement, a Physical Fitness Excellence Badge, two Meritorious Unit Citations and gained entry into the Corps of Non-Commissioned Officers.
I've gotten sand under my sweaty collar more times than I care to remember, been lowered into manholes by ropes to rescue casualties and killed six scorpions. I've rubbed elbows with influential shaykhs and American generals and I've knelt beside limbless Iraqi children. I've been in fights, been in love and felt the most scorching anger imaginable. I've seen good things and I've seen bad things - and most of that is because journalists in the Army get to go everywhere. I'm very thankful to the Army for giving me more experience than I wanted when I enlisted.
I enjoy writing for civilians because it's far more pleasurable to write from the comfort of my own home than to write in a scorpion-infested bunker or tent in the middle of the desert.
I like ice cream, Bottle Caps and angel hair pasta, and I hike in the mountains whenever I get the chance. I enjoy playing Sea Monkeys slot machines, watching Will Ferrell movies and talking to my friends.
I have a handsome, witty and smart husband who makes me laugh every day and knows more about me than I know myself; I have a beautiful daughter who just might turn out to be a writer herself (her talent is surpassing mine, and I've got twenty years on her). I also have a precious little boy who I won't be able to look in the eye until sometime in May.
And that, my friends, is everything about me.