The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


May 15, 2007

Name: SGT Brandon White
Posting date: 5/16/07
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Diamond, OH
Milblog url:

As I watch the second hand tick by ever so slowly, I cannot help but think of home. What is home? Being in various overseas assignments and combat tours, one starts to develop a greater understanding of exactly what constitutes “home”. Is it this place that I take my boots off in? The location on a map where my lawnmower resides? Is it where I grew up?

Home is much more than that, I’m afraid. Foremost, there is plenty that home is not. Home is not wearing 40 lbs of protective equipment and taping up taillights to make a run to the gas station. Home is not scanning the horizon for snipers or men carrying RPGs when I go out to pick up the morning paper. Home isn’t digging a cathole in the backyard to use the “latrine”. Home isn’t rain-soaked sleeping bags on cots. It definitely isn’t off-roading just to avoid the main roads. And it definitely isn’t a minefield-laden desert.

Home as I know it is comfort. Home is bundled up on the couch with the missus. It is a place without constant danger. A bubble of sorts, where family and friends coexist without the need for automatic weapons. Home is a place where neighbors ask if you saw the Indians game instead of detonating an explosive device that is wrapped around their chest. Home is using the acronym DVD instead of IED. Home is hearing a news clip on the radio about a cat stuck in a tree and the heroic dog who saved it, not hearing, “Four KIA, two WIA, grid location…”

Home is a place that I wish to get back to.

Years in the Army: 7      Years overseas: 4


SGT White,
I was thinking as we were traveling down the highway the other day, wow, we are so lucky here. No IEDs, no bombs going off. No matter how hectic traffic is and our lives are-it is peaceful. We have a lot to be thankful for.
And we are thankful for soldiers like you!! Thankyou for your service and welcome home!!!

The war has gotten us all down, but it's the braves like you that make all the differences.
Hang in there. Home will always be waiting for you.

You will get back to your home, Sgt. White, never fear.
Please know that this Canadian is very grateful for your, and your families', sacrifices for making my part of the world a safer and better place.
May God Bless and keep you and all the Soldiers in your Unit. May you all soon return to the welcome which all Warriors deserve.

Veritas et Fidelis Semper

This really struck a chord with me. I sent to my son who is serving in Northern Iraq and he emailed me back and said it made him cry because it rang so true. Thank you for saying what so many are soldiers are feeling. Thank you for this incredible post. From an Airborne mom waiting for her son to come "home".

Thanks Sgt. White... Thank you for all that you do and sacrifice, you and your commrades... God be with you and keep you safe...

Thank you for sharing with us. I hope you will be home again soon, and the stay this time will be longer that it has been in the past.

I want you to know that most Americans want you to come home now and that many of us are doing are darndest to bring you back. I recently saw a posting from a soldier who couldn't understand why so many Americans no longer supported the war when we, "hadn't had to make any real sacrifices" as civilians did in previous wars. I disagree, though. Civilians have made a sacrifice. We have put the men and women who we rely on to protect us in harms way with no definition of "winning". We have sacrificed your trust. We have sacrificed your mental health. We have sacrificed your marriages and relationships with your children. We have sacrificed your long term health. These things taken from our soldiers will affect us all as a nation for generations.
May you come home and never go back. May you be on our soil to protect us.

Home is where one never leaves without looking forward to their return. I spend too little time with you and the others writing - I check everyday but I want to be there, to do what needs done and to be needed for my effort. I hope you come home with all the others, safe and victorious - there is a country here that has always needed fighters and problem solvers and builders, but you have a mission and are best prepared to react to the enemies there, the ones we never want at home. Thank you for your writing and don't think the country is following the media or the politicians - they would follow y'all anywhere - you understand duty, sacrifice and getting a job done. Carry on!

That's a nice definition of home. I wish you were home, too. War sucks. War is the ultimate failure of politicians. Politicians are supposed to keep us out of this stuff, they are supposed to make things work. That's their job. You're doing your job, I think I'm doing mine, but somebody's not pulling their weight. Good luck! I hope you don't run out of gas before you get home.

Sgt White: God bless you son - and keep the faith that you WILL get back home. Thank you for serving your country and IT IS your country - right or wrong! Love and prayers from a grandma on an Indian reservation in Arizona......"...until they ALL come home.." Semper Fi - carry on!

Ever since I lost contact with my great friend when he was sent to the army a few years ago, I hated to think of what he might be going through. He was always very close with his family, his friends…his home, more or less. And I believe that he feels exactly what you have posted.

Your description of home is so accurate, it’s astonishing. Many times I’ve been asked to describe what home is, but I couldn’t put it in the correct words. It comes to show that you must be separated from things to be able to fully appreciate the gravity of their impact on your life.

I’ve always been at home, surrounded by my family, friends and my community since I can remember. Even now that I’m at college, typing up this response as an English assignment, I’m still at home, in the same city and within the same community. I’m glad I read your post. It made me realize just how precious home is to a person.

I’m sorry for your and every other soldier’s suffering and I sincerely wish that I can help make those situations disappear from your lives. Just know that back here at home, all of us – family, friends, and complete strangers – are desperately wishing for all of you to come home as well.

Home is America. Only made possible because of men like you. God bless you. We have your back until you get home.

Thanks for your kind words everyone. I did indeed make it home and am enjoying it immensely.

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