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Learned To Go With Very Little!

Heroes Remember

Learned To Go With Very Little!

First and foremost I think in 2006, we kind of didn’t know what we were really getting into and you can say oh you’re going to a desert and it’s going to be hot. Until that plane door opens and you actually feel the heat hit you and then look at all your gear on the ground and pick all that up and walk along, you know. You can train for so many things but until you actually kind of get on the ground and have a sense, oh this is the climate that I am going to be working in. And the different colours of brown on top of brown, on top of brown. Dust everywhere, various smells. You kind of went back in time. So when we got our kit and settled and I went out to Kandahar, I lived at the PRT downtown in Kandahar city. By the time we got out there we lived in g-wagons at that point. It was like a jeep, you could look out the windows. You went back in time. I felt like I was in biblical times. You know growing up we had running water and a roof over our head and lights that turned on, you know, you didn’t think about those things. And seeing many children with garbage strewn along the ditches and walking a donkey barefoot where a six year old is holding the one year old and the five year old has the two year old and then the brother is herding a couple of sheep across the street. Nothing can prepare you for that. Where am I? Living in mud houses and huts and what am I doing here? How are we going to do anything here? What are we even, how do we fix this? You start to think about what we are actually going to do over here. As part of the reconstruction team at PRT we are supposed to go hearts and minds, see how we could implement, check out in schools, wells for villages, interact. I went to the women’s prison as well to see what their living conditions were like. When a woman goes to prison she has to take all her children with her. So the prisons again are run down courtyard. The only way to really explain it is it’s almost like horse stalls around a courtyard and there’s a mat in there and the woman and her children live in there. Some of them are co-located with another woman and her kids and they kind of have this dirt school yard that they play in and that’s it. It’s overwhelming. I am 22 or 23 years old at the time and I am like trying to get your head around this. What you learn after weeks of living there, what I learned anyway is you don’t actually need very much to get by. So very quickly ten extra pairs of socks that I would carry in my ruck went down to one. There was no taking a second set of combats. You learn very quickly how long you can carry so much gear so you are walking around and some days we would just walk and sleep on the ground or driving our vehicles, a little convoy. You know we will prove this road today, we will see how far we get, if we get any contact, you know, enemy activity then we’ll deal with that when it comes. Our goal maybe we will get to point B by Tuesday or something, I don’t know. And you learn very quickly what you are willing to carry and not carry anymore so I mean months into it your toothbrush is gone, you don’t care about underwear, you haven’t showered in a week and there was no shampoo, you got rid of that very quickly so you learned to go with very little because it became very unnecessary very quickly actually.

Army medic, Vanessa Larter, provides a detailed account of the culture shock experienced upon arrival and the instant understanding of what is required to exist in such an unknown environment

Vanessa Larter

Ms. Vanessa Larter was born April 17, 1982 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. After graduating from high school Vanessa studied at UPEI and later made the choice to join the military as a medical technician. Her basic training took her to Gagetown, N,B, Camp Borden, Ontario for her first medical course, BC for paramedic school and then finally to settle with his first job in Edmonton, Alberta. She joined with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry with occupation of army medic. Along with In-Canada service Vanessa had two deployments to Afghanistan, 2006 and 2008. With a sixteen year career Vanessa is still in the military and resides at Camp Borden as a physician assistant holding rank of sergeant. Vanessa has great pride for her military service. She now resides in Ontario with her three children.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
October 27, 2018
Person Interviewed:
Vanessa Larter
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)
Army medic

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