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Stressful jobs - Soldier encounters culture clash

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By Nancy Kennedy

BEVERLY HILLS — Your body being on alert even while you sleep.

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Being far away from home, in a country with unfamiliar customs and language, with temperatures higher (and lower) than you’re used to back home.

Knowing that your family misses you, and you miss them; knowing that they fear for your safety.

Having to carry a gun, having to know how to use it, being reminded that you may have to use it one day.

Although U.S. Army Specialist Bryan Trefry, 20, is not a combat soldier, during his recent tour in Afghanistan as a cargo specialist, he still carried a weapon, still experienced the stress that comes with being a soldier in a war zone.

“What was most stressful for me was working in a totally different atmosphere and culture with a totally different type of people,” he said while home on leave to see his family in Citrus County recently.

His job involved exporting cargo out of Afghanistan and working side by side with Afghan nationals.

When you’re the foreigner, you have to learn the other country’s customs, especially what is taboo or considered offensive.

“Trying to talk to them was difficult,” he said. “They didn’t understand what we were saying and we didn’t understand what they were saying. Sometimes we’d yell, but that doesn’t help. That’s just misunderstanding louder.”

He said he and his buddies would relieve stress by working out at night.

“Some of the guys had TVs and we’d play video games,” he said. “Being in the military, you get used to always having to be early and then waiting, always making sure that everything’s perfect. That’s definitely stressful.”

 

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.