When I found out I was going back to Afghanistan with my Guard unit I had mixed emotions. I have always been excited to serve overseas. This time was no different; I was excited to deploy. However, the mixed feelings came from knowing I would have to leave Spirit of America and the work I was doing in order to put the uniform on again. Deployment complete, I’m back to work with Spirit of America.It has been hectic and exciting starting back to work with Spirit of America. I was recently in Eastern Europe with Isaac Eagan to meet the European Special Operations Command and Embassy Country teams I will be working with. One of the countries we stopped in, Ukraine, is at war on its eastern border with Russian-backed separatists. Other countries I visited across Europe, like Estonia and Moldova, are also facing similar emerging threats from Russian aggression in the region. These existential threats are far more complex than one might be lead to believe from following the news. There is no substitute for being on the ground with the deployed men and women, meeting their host-nation partners and the civilians whom they are working to help. Every conversation I have had along the way in places like Kosovo, Georgia and Germany, have helped me better understand these complexities. A solid grasp of the situation is critical to providing the right support at the right time to assist U.S. personnel in their mission to bring peace and stability to the region. Today I am back in Arlington, VA, where I will spend time when I’m not in Europe, the Caucasus or some other place meeting with deployed U.S. men and women. Over Memorial Day, I had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery. I walked past the rows of white tombstones and remembered my buddies who died serving this country. I came back to work for SoA for a lot of reasons, but the one that gives me purpose is my desire to work alongside those in uniform, many of them my good friends. As they prevent conflicts and resolve crises around the world, I am doing my part to make sure they have the resources they need so they can come home safely. Chris Clary Project Manager
Chris served as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant in Afghanistan where he mentored Afghan Commandos from 2010-2011. He volunteered to return in 2012 to work with Afghan Local Police and Afghan National Police at a Village Stability site in central Afghanistan, and also took a leave of absence from SoA to deploy once more to Afghanistan with his Special Forces team in 2015.