Chief of Staff, Steve Turdo shares on his military experience in Afghanistan

Since the start of this blog I’ve mentioned my Dad, Steve Turdo, numerous times.  My father has worked for the U.S. government for over 36 years in many different positions.  He has surrounded himself with the work he loves and with that has grown to expand is knowledge, experiences and even better himself through education.  He is a Rowan Alumn, gaining his bachelors in 2006 and is currently working towards his masters.

I’ve always been proud of the work ethic my father possesses and have tried to emulate the same in my own work. For as long as I can remember I’ve always thought my Dad had the coolest job.  Whenever I was asked what my dad does for a living I of course was honored to respond with “U.S. Department of Defense”.   That honor is now larger than ever, now that my answer has been replaced with “He manages DCMA employees on base in Northern Afghanistan”.

This weekend my dad had a full schedule of traveling, and assessing other bases.  He still found the opportunity to answer some questions I had for him via email about his position, experience so far, and expectations.  As proud as I am of everything he’s done, I’m even more proud to share it with others.

Stephen Turdo -- Bargam Airfield Base

Stephen Turdo — Bargam Airfield Base

Name: Stephen Turdo

Age: 55

Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA

Current Location: Bargam Airfield Base, in the Parwan Province, Afghanistan

Q. What is your position?

A. Defense Contract Management Agency Northern Afghanistan Chief of Staff

Q. How long have you been away from home?

A. Since June 29th, 2013.  I will return in May 2014.

Q. What do your daily duties consist of?

A. Day to day operations for a command of about 70 people, workload balancing, supervisor and personnel issues for about 30 civilian employees

Q. What has been the biggest transition for you since you’ve been away?

A. Lack of indoor plumbing.  And the realization that we are supporting the men and women that are here fighting and protecting our way of life.  They are eating and sharing the same confined base with us and what we do is in direct support of their mission.

Camp Eggers

Q. Does the culture influence you on the base? If so, how?

A. Yes, there are individuals from the militaries of the coalition forces, the local nationals that work on the base, as well as citizens from other countries working for the contractors providing services to the military.  They are all interesting and they all have their own reasons for being here.  When I arrived, the only people I knew were the people I trained with for the deployment and some of the individuals that I communicated with prior to coming to Afghanistan

Q.  Have you formed any kind of relationship with the soldiers on your base?

A. Yes, about half of our staff in Northern Afghanistan is military, and the other two offices are about half military and we deal with them on a daily basis.  I talk to the Airmen and Soldiers everyday, part of my responsibilities include working with the soldiers and briefing new employees when they arrive and out-briefing and receiving feedback as they leave.  We discuss everyday work activities as well as their job back in the States, their families and where they are from.  My boss is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force.

Sahate Ame Circle

Sahate Ame Circle

Q. What is the hardest thing been for you since you’ve been there?

A. Not being able to have a diversion from my routine.  Although I have traveled to other bases in Northern Afghanistan it would be nice to have a day or two to attend or participate in other activities.

Q.  Has your communication differed with your family at home?

A.  Somewhat, I am able to communicate almost on a daily basis.  Either through the Internet using Wifi or using the voice over IP office phones

Q. What is the first thing you’re looking forward to when you come home?

A. Seeing my family! Being able to go and do what I want, currently we work seven days a week and cannot leave the base.  We travel between bases either in airplanes or on helicopters only seeing outside the base from the air.

Creating the Perfect Care Package

Fall is among us and the holidays are just around the corner.  I’m lucky enough to have December to look forward to since I will have my Dad home for almost two weeks.  Most people with loved ones deployed are not as fortunate as I am this Christmas.  A great way to help make your loved one feel as if they’re getting to spend a little bit of the upcoming seasons with you is to make fun, creative and personal care packages.  I’ve compiled some of my favorite seasonal how-to care packages for some inspirational ideas to bring you closer to the one you miss.

With Halloween the first up, Army Wife 101 brings us her “Boo-Tacular” Halloween Care Package ideas.  This care package is a great way to showcase what the kids are dressing up as this year, or to send your loved one their favorite candy.

Next up is Thanksgiving! Married to the Army has compiled a list for all kinds of care package occasions.  I especially love her thanksgiving ideas including canned turkey, instant mashed potato cups, and hostess apple pies.  As military families, we’re thankful everyday, do a little bit more by making your loved one feel appreciated on thanksgiving by sending them a list of what makes you so thankful for them.

Photo Courtesy of: http://itsjordyn33.tumblr.com

A clever New Years care package
Photo Courtesy of: http://itsjordyn33.tumblr.com

Christmas is where you can get the most creative.  Sharing old family photos, or your favorite Christmas together is a great idea for bringing your loved one back to that memory, and letting them know that they’ll be home making new ones soon.  Deployment Diva has tons of ideas for not only Christmas care packages but almost every kind you can think of.  Deployment Diva included a mini stocking filled with small candies, santa slingshots, and even tree scented sticks to give the deployed the feeling of Christmas morning while being away.

I hope some of these ideas work for you and help you cope a little bit better as the holidays approach us.  I know I will be sending my Dad one before he gets home, I just have to come up with my own idea because chances are he already read this before it arrives! Check back soon to see what I come up with for my original care package.

Go Badgers

The University of Wisconsin’s football organization pays a ‘Thank You’ at every home game by honoring a ‘Military Family of the Game’.  On saturday night 13-year-old Bella Lund was brought to the field for what she thought was to stand as the chosen family member.  A voice began speaking over the stadium’s sound system.

“We salute Bella’s mother, Captain Jane Renee Lund, better known as J.R. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, J.R. functions as a veterinarian in U.S. Army Reserves. Since April, she has been serving our country in Afghanistan providing agricultural education to Afghans and providing care to military working dogs. Once her tour is complete, J.R. plans to return home in October to be reunited with Bella and the rest of her family.  But Bella, sometimes plans change.  Ladies and gentlemen at this time, please direct your attention to the south end zone, and Bella turn around and welcome home your mother, Captain Jane Renee Lund!”

Lund, a University of Wisconsin Alum stormed the field to meet her daughter for the first time in five months in front of over 80,000 attendees.  Both Wisconsin and Purdue fans cheered wildly at the reunion all while aired on TV during an extended time out.

host.madison.com

Jane Renee and Daughter Bella Lund reuniting during the University of Wisconsin’s ‘Military Family of the Game’ — host.madison.com

Overwatch

According to the Macmillan Dictionaryoverwatch is primarily defined as a military word to explain the process of watching a group of soldiers and giving them support if necessary. 

Red, White, and Feeling Blue is a blog designed to provide support to whomever deployment of a loved one affects.  My father left for Afghanistan in July of 2013. I was quickly introduced to this new life of living in a constant state of fear and missing someone I never had to miss before.

I plan on gaining perspective from as many angles as possible to deliver insight and help with how to cope and communicate within your own situation.  I will attend support groups and report on topics covered, advice given, and hopefully have the opportunity to share many stories.

Join me on my journey as I provide an overwatch to individuals living through deployment on either end, as I live through mine.

dad and i