2 Weeks a Year Finding Humor in Iraq, by SSG Trent Cherin, is an ebook chronicle of SSG Cherin’s experience deployed in Iraq for a year spanning 2003 and 2004. 2 Weeks a Year caught my eye as I was browsing the Kindle owners lending library because the cover photo is of the author standing in front of an Army Ambulance. SSG Cherin, a member of a Washington based National Guard Unit, was trained as a medic and had responsibilities for a base clinic, as well as medics that were deployed on convoys and patrols.
The book, described as a compilation of emails sent to friends and family, is a chronological diary of SSG Cherin’s experience deploying to, stationed in, and returning from Iraq. Stories range from the mundane descriptions of interminable Army paperwork, waiting, more paperwork, and more waiting to the gripping tension of discovering several IEDs have been planted in the path of a convoy he is responsible for and directing the ordinance team to the site.
Sharing and Paying Tribute
SSG Cherin also shares stories told to him by members of his unit. I especially appreciated, because of a family connection to a Marine killed in Fallujah, the story of the experience his medics had with the Marines in Fallujah.
The style of writing throughout the book is smooth and matter of the fact. I think SSG Cherin probably tempered some of what he wrote so as not to alarm friends and family reading his email. Recall at the time he was deployed and sending emails home the status of Iraq was very much in doubt with the battle for Fallujah in full swing and the run up to the first free Iraqi elections.
Glimpse into Army Life
2 Weeks gives a great glimpse into the daily grinding tedium of life on base that swings against stress inducing unpredictability. SSG Cherin conveyed a personal attitude of taking what life gave him and trying to make the best of every situation he faced. When he was on short notice ordered to accompany a psych patient to Germany SSG Cherin took advantage of the opportunity to recharge himself outside of the combat zone, appreciate the opportunity to visit Germany, and share his experience with other soldiers.
Because of his leadership position over a team of medics or out of deference to his readers SSG Cherin didn’t share many stories of actual combat patient care or emergency medicine. As a reader I expected tales of emergency medical care provided on the battlefield, but I wasn’t disappointed that those stories were excluded as I appreciated the other insights into Army life and the experience of being deployed to Iraq. I have a much better appreciation for the variety of roles soldiers are asked to fill and the personal transformation that can come from any number of experience in the military.
Read 2 Weeks
2 Weeks, available as an ebook in the Amazon store, is a worthwhile read. Better understanding the Iraq war experience through the eyes of a soldier deployed to the combat zone is a significant way to honor the men and women that have served.