Veteran Rene Prieto: The Story of a Sarah Eckhardt Campaign Staff Member

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The Sarah Eckhardt Campaign is honored to have two war veterans on our team. For Veterans’ Day, here’s the personal story of  Afghanistan veteran Rene Prieto, a member of our campaign staff, in his own words.
I made the oath of service in December of 2000 after George W. Bush acquired the presidency with the help of the Supreme Court. I was certain we were headed to Iraq, and I was inspired by my studies to do something other than study.

I didn’t go to Basic Combat Training until July 2001, thanks to the delayed entry program. So it was at the end of Basic Combat Training that my platoon was standing in line at parade rest waiting to get our class A and B uniforms issued that we heard on the radio that “a plane has just crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.”

That afternoon the battalion played taps and we saluted the fallen. Later that evening we quietly watched video footage of the event in our barracks on the TV set we otherwise never turned on.

It wasn’t until after Thanksgiving weekend in 2002 that I finally made it to Afghanistan with the job of winning hearts and minds. I deployed three times, totaling about 15 months, drove 90km once or twice a week, never had to fire my weapon, and physically only suffered from one pretty bad week of dysentery (though never missing a day of work).

I loved my direct interactions with Afghans, and I’d love to go back sans uniform. I was honorably discharged in July, 2005. I never went to Iraq, and frankly, I’m glad.

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