When one hears the word “veteran,” the first image that often comes to mind is usually an eighty-something year old balding man who served in Vietnam or World War II. It is certainly not a picture of twenty-year-old
Chris Slininger, first year Eastern student who served in Kuwait for a year.
Slininger, who is in the Army Reserves, started out at Eastern in the fall of 2004. Eight days into his first semester, he received a shocking phone call letting him know that he was being called into active duty.
Slininger had had no idea when he came to school that it would only be for eight days. “Everyone goes,” Slininger said. “It’s just when your time comes.”
Leaving Eastern was hard. The first week of college is filled with freshman orientation and ice breaker activities, and it is when most of one’s friends for the next four years are made. And because of being in Kuwait, Slininger regrettably couldn’t keep in contact with many people.
After a month at home to get his priorities in order, Slininger went to Fort Dix for two months to be trained. Thanksgiving was spent with his family, and Slininger left for Kuwait the next day.
In Kuwait, “it was very hot,” Slininger said, some days reaching as high as 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
During his time in Kuwait, Slininger was stationed at two different camps. At Camp Victory, his main tasks were to move supplies and vehicles, fix vehicles and move parts (including armor for the vehicles).
At Camp Arifjan, where Slininger was working under task force Gator, he escorted coalition forces from 28 different countries in and out of Iraq and made sure they were trained properly and had all of the supplies they needed. “It was a fun job,” he said.
“Sandstorms were cool too,” Slininger said. “You have to see them to believe them.” Besides the nearly 400 foot high sandstorms that Slininger had to drive through, other interesting things in Kuwait included camel spiders and colored scorpions. But that’s about it. “The whole place is just dead.”
To pass the time in Kuwait, the men would exercise as long as four hours a day and play Halo. The goal was to “make the days go as quickly as possible so we could get home quicker,” Slininger said.
One major impact being in Kuwait had on Slininger was changing his outlook on the world. “Things you take for granted in America, you no longer take for granted, because for a year, we had nothing,” Slininger said.
While in Kuwait, no one complained. However, the reality of people’s materialism and selfishness hit for the first time when Slininger went shopping once he returned to the States and saw a lady complaining about a coupon. “It was weird,” he said.
Once Slininger got back to the States last November, there was never any question as to whether or not he would come back to Eastern. “It took me like two hours to feel at home here (once he got back this semester).”
Slininger is currently a Biokinetics major and plans on eventually becoming a chiropractor.