Thoughts from Arizona…

So far ASB Arizona has been amazing. Working with the veterans and getting to know the thirteen other people from Maryland has been great. I’ve been working outside on landscaping and the smoke shelter we are building for the veterans. Our veteran supervisor is Rob. He is a 15 year veteran who saw action in the first Iraq War, Afghanistan and the Second Iraq War. He is also one of the funniest people I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. I am working with Ted, Suavi Avi, Tziporah and Sarah on these projects. One more thing to note, supervisor Rob loves making fun of Avi for being super, Ted for being ROTC and me for not being able to dig holes correctly.

This morning we started off by meeting in the office of Comin’ Home to go over the day. The usual head of the project, Troth was off on a part time job for the day so Cliff, another veteran, was leading us. Then we went over to the smoke shelter area and started to cut metal needed to build it. After, we mixed the concrete needed for the posts. During the mixing process we had a water fight with the hose and Tziporah got soaked. After we finished that, it was time for lunch.

After lunch I decided to go inside to learn how to tile. Cliff and Richard two vets taught us how. I worked with Sara, Melissa, Rachel and Ted. It was a great skill to learn. We put “mud” down, troweled and then set the tiles. We finished the entire kitchen and got the “mud” all over our clothes. We also had an amazing time talking to the vets and getting to know them better. Aaron, one of the younger vets, was quiet at first, but after talking for a little he opened up on how much he loves video games and wants to go to school for video game design. After that we cleaned up. During the clean up time Tziporah and I got into a “mud” fight where she got it all over her, I won.

When we finished work, we had around two hours before dinner. Avi and I threw around a frisbee for a while. Then we chilled, talked to the veterans and Rob made fun of everyone (mostly Avi). Then we had a big dinner with 70 of the veterans there. We cooked for them, and by we I mean Baruch (the trip chef). We served them matzah ball soup and broccoli kugel. We ate and mingled with the veterans. Finally we broke up into discussion groups with around 2 students and 8 veterans. There we heard about their stories and reasons for joining the military. We also told them about us and I made it known that I planned on joining the IDF, Tzahal in the near future. One of the vets who had seen combat, Ron, was upset by this. He questioned me, “Are you sure you want to join the army?” in a soft purposeful tone. I said, “Yes” with all of my conviction. Again he asked, “Are you sure you want to join the army?” and my answer was the same. Another time, “Are you sure you want to join the army?” and the same answer. Once again, “Are you sure you want to join the army?” and me not yielding, “Yes”. This goes on for another minute, with the entire room silent. Through this experience, I realize that I want to serve the country of my people more than ever, I need to fight for the homeland of the Jews.

The other veterans commend me, the session ends. Am I naive, Yes. Am I sure I want to join the Army… Yes, more than ever.

by Dan

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