Sgt. Anna Duncan
What is your name, rank and age?
Sergeant Anna Duncan; Company B, 257th Brigade Support Battalion. Age 33. SLIDESHOW: Photos By Sgt. Duncan
Where are you from?
I was born in Castries, St. Lucia in the West Indies, but I’ve lived in Neenah, Wis., for 20 years.
Why did you enlist in the military? And at what age?
I enlisted in the military at the age of 28 because of September 11, 2001.
Is this your first tour? If not, how many tours? How is this one different from the others?
This is indeed my first tour.
Tell us about your civilian job. How it compares to what you do while on active duty?
Prior to having a full time National Guard job, I worked for M&M Mars Corporation. My job duties included creating reports, spreadsheets and eating chocolate. There are very few commonalities between my civilian job and my active duty job; I still eat chocolate while on active duty however.
What is your unit typically known for? Are you doing that type of work in Iraq? Is it harder or easier than you expected?
My unit is known for its awesome flag football team and great leaders. Since my unit is a Brigade Support Battalion, our duties range from medics to cooks to supply. The work I am doing Iraq is indeed my job; a medic/optometry tech. The job and the deployment are definitely easier than I expected. The unit I am attached to is great, my own unit is great, and my doctor and my NCOIC [Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge] are great. I’m very lucky to be doing my MOS [Military Occupational Speciality] while deployed; it’s great to know that the schooling was not in vain.
Tell us about your daily routine. Please include the region of Iraq you are serving in.
I work at the optometry clinic at the Combat Support Hospital at Camp Cropper. My daily routine includes, but is not limited to screening patients, (both coalition and detainees) ordering glasses, updating med-pros, delivering glasses and tracking patient visits on two different databases. The best part of my day is when I am able to go to the compound to visit some of my favorite soldiers from my unit, since I am not able to see them as frequently as I would like due to our conflicting schedules.
How do you relax over there? Is it possible to relax?
I relax by keeping a rigorous workout schedule. I also watch a lot of movies and read a lot of books. Cryptograms — if that doesn’t relax you, nothing will.
What has been the most memorable moment of this tour so far?
My most memorable moment was providing care to a detainee who has been in the news and the media. Someone who is famous for his less than diplomatic treatment, for lack of a better term, of his own people. He was extremely polite and courteous to me. I didn’t find out who he was until days after he visited the clinic.
What is your impression of the Iraqi people? Are they appreciative of your presence?
I think people of any culture are highly misunderstood until you’re in their presence and have interacted with them on a frequent basis. I think the Iraqi people are doing what anyone in a culture would do if their country got invaded; they’re protecting their own. It’s the lifestyle that they were born into; it’s what they know. There are good people and bad people in every culture and it’s not for me or anyone to judge a whole culture based on the actions of a few bad people.
I believe they are appreciative of my presence, for the most part, because of the medical care that we provide to them. There will always be some resentment towards American soldiers, but if we keep acting in the manner in which we were trained to act, I believe most of the resentment will dwindle. It may never disappear, but we can continue to do our part, and to act in the way that will bring honor to the uniform, our country and our individual selves. It’s imperative that we continue to strive to give the people of Iraq a reason for not retaliating because we are here; let them know that we are here to help them, not to hurt them.
As troop withdrawals continue, what change do you feel you and your unit are bringing about based on your mission? How does it make you feel?
Based on my mission and the mission of those in my unit, I believe the medical care that we have provided to the Iraqi people, the compassion that we’ve showed, the manner in which we have treated them will have a lasting impact not only on the current population, but also on other Iraqi people not directly involved with our current mission. American soldiers have come a long way with our training and I strongly believe that our presence here add what we have accomplished in the time we have been here, will be perpetuated by those who will replace us when we leave. I feel blessed that I was able to be a part of this change and that I was able to perform my duties to the best of my abilities.
What is the biggest misconception you think people have about being in the military or what you’re doing overseas?
I think the greatest misconception people have is that American soldiers are in a country that simply does not want them there, and we are fighting a war that has been going for years and will continue to rage long after we leave. People believe we are trying to implement the American lifestyle on the Iraqi people and we’re over here with no business being here. Those who don’t wear this uniform will not understand what it means to be a part of something greater than oneself.
Name one thing you carry with you at all times.
Chap stick, gum and floss; you never know when you will meet someone special. Always be prepared. Still carrying that chap stick, gum and floss around…
With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, what are you most thankful for? What’s most on your mind?
I am most thankful for my family, my closest friends and my high cheekbones. Returning home safely with my unit, as a unit; this is what’s foremost on my mind.
Name your favorite song. What memory does it invoke?
“The Ghost Song” by The Doors. It reminds me of the time when everything in my life made sense.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The ability to teleport.
Brains. Beauty. Bravery. Which would you like more of?
Forgive or forget Brett Favre for playing in purple?
Forgive him — at least he’s not playing for the Bears. Now if Eli decides to play for any other team but the Giants, talk to me then — I’ll have a lot to say about that.