New York Mills' 691st heads to Afghanistan
For some members of an Army medical team out of New York Mills, their upcoming deployment is an exciting opportunity to prove themselves after years of training. For others, it's a hazard and a tough reminder of over ten years at war. Our Andrew Sorensen spoke with some of the members of the 691st Medical Team about their expectations for their year-long deployment to Afghanistan.
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NEW YORK MILLS, N.Y. -- The reactions of service members and their families were mixed at Sunday's send off of the 691st Medical Team. Several members of of the unit have been here before.
Lieutenant Colonel James Glass was in Kuwait, he said, "When the war first started when it went from being Operation Enduring Freedom in that theater, to Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2002 to 2003."
But for some, like Specialist Susan Arnold, this will be their first deployment.
"I'm excited because this is what I joined for, this is my job, and I've been training two years for this and now it's time," Arnold said.
The 691st will be responsible for forward operations surgery in Afghanistan.
"Our mission is to do is perform life-saving, limb, eye, salvage surgery," Colonel Gino Trevisani explained.
It's a daunting task in hostile and rural territory, but the years of training have given the rookies confidence.
"I'm nervous a little bit," Arnold admitted. "But we're a big family and we're ready."
Veteran members like Colonel Trevisani say being a big family helps, but the big challenges remain.
"It's hard, I mean obviously, being away from the family is the hardest for sure," he said.
Some things get easier with time. When Lieutenant Colonel Glass deployed to Kuwait for the first time, internet was unpredictable, and that was long before the invention of Skype.
He added that his family has grown used to it, "They are a lot more in tune with what's going on, having done it three times before."
But some things never change.
"When you see another injured casualty come in wearing the same uniform you're wearing and knowing the sacrifice they gave, and their families at home, the sacrifice they gave, it just hits on you," Colonel Trevisani said.
Still, the members say there is a silver lining in this bittersweet ceremony. Their year away from their families is a year spent getting other soldiers back to theirs.