As Independence Day draws near, many local soldiers are glad to be home. After spending the last year fighting in the war on terror, they can reflect on what this Independence Day means. We sat down with Army Soldier Virginia Caballero who spent 12 months in Iraq, and while she's glad to be home, she definitely felt more of a purpose overseas.
Virginia Caballero joined the United States Army three years ago. She was sent to Iraq for 12 months returning just a few months ago.
"When we went to Iraq, I don't think most of us knew where we were going when we left. I was just hoping that when we got there, there was something that needed to be done and something worth doing. While I was there I definitely saw that there was reason for us to be there as far as how people were living and what they were aloud to do in their lives and I felt that we made a big difference," said Virginia Caballero.
Virginia worked in Civil Affairs with the Coalition Provisional Authority. She helped financial institutions get on track by stabilizing their record system and changing over their currency.
"I think we were all close to fighting, you never knew when or where it was going to happen. We weren't in the actual war itself because we were Civil Affairs but some of our people were definitely there when it was going on and involved in shoot outs," Caballero said.
Virginia herself got caught in a drive by shooting one night. The bullet went through the truck and into her hip, she now has a purple heart tattooed above the wound.
"The way I see it, anyone who went overseas or anyone who's gone anywhere to do anything for another people is a hero. I think, we had soldiers who weren't in any position other than guarding vehicles or driving vehicles, which is what I was assigned to first and I think their presence there is just as important as the officer in charge of the biggest project we have," says Caballero.
Virginia says coming home has been bitter sweet, the welcome she's felt is overwhelming, but at the same time she misses helping people like she was in Iraq.
"When you go from an environment like that where you are doing something really important that is making a difference then you want to come home and do that same job. So it definitely makes you look at things differently that you may have taken for granted like soap, toilet tissue, running water just the fact that you are able to walk across the street without eight people with weapons guarding you."
While Virginia misses her duties overseas, she is thankful to be home this Independence Day. "I feel that Lubbock is such a family community that I don't know if I'd be able to celebrate it the same way anywhere else."
Virginia has five more years in the army and has no idea when she'll be called up again. For now she's back to work at Convergys and taking life one day at a time.