For Army Reserve Major Carrie Monje, being a solider comes as natural to her as being a mother. She is currently the Commander of the 792nd Medical Detachment in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
"Being a solider is part of who I am. My entire adult life I've been a soldier. It's part of who I am, just like being a mother. I'm a solider," Monje said.
Monje's career in the Army, 23 years so far, started when she was just 17. Both Monje's parents were in the military, so her choice was simple.
"Once I was commissioned, I became an environmental science officer and I worked in the field of preventative medicine," Monje said.
Monje's expertise led to her being sent to Afghanistan to command her unit, researching the area and making sure the soldiers were living in a healthy environment.
"We're scientists, really. We test soil and air and water and do inspections - just things to make sure that the soldiers are safe and healthy," Monje said.
For this wife and mother of two, being away from her family for the last year has been difficult.
"I miss my boys, I miss my husband, I miss my family and friends. Thank goodness for Skype and Facebook," Monje said.
Life on Kandahar Airfield isn't as bad as you may think. Monje says she's actually enjoying her time overseas, but there are still constant reminders that Monje is living in a war zone.
"Sometimes you forget. Of course when the rockets come in, then you're reminded you're living in a combat zone," Monje said.
Monje's time in Afghanistan is almost over. She'll be coming home to Lubbock in December.
"I'm ready to get home and be with my family. Of course, being on R&R really makes me look forward to coming home," Monje said.
As for the future, when Monje gets home, she will continue working as a lab instructor at Texas Tech, but she won't be leaving the Army behind.
Monje says she will continue to serve her country for as long as she can.
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