Archive for Thursday, September 30, 2004

Back to her world: Army nurse to resume service in Middle East

September 30, 2004

For Army 1st Lt. Deanna Steinmetz, being back home for the last two weeks has been a "great" and "wonderful" time. On furlough from service in Iraq, the Army nurse has been able to visit friends and family, eat at her favorite restaurants, and some kind folks from her church even bought her a 12-pack of her favorite beer -- Boulevard Wheat.

"Everyone I've talked to, even if they don't support the war, has been extremely supportive of what I'm doing over there," said Steinmetz, a Bonner Springs resident with close ties to Linwood and Basehor.

Unfortunately, the relaxing vacation is over. As of press time, Steinmetz is headed back toward a place she's grown all too familiar with -- a war zone. Before leaving Wednesday morning,Steinmetz, a nurse previously stationed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, said she is being deployed back to the Middle East.

Making the transition from the cozy, and safe, confines of home to the hazardous conditions in the Iraq won't be easy, Steinmetz said. But the military has trained her well, and she can always draw on the experience of the last seven months serving in the region.

"I think it'll be pretty rough to get back into the swing of things, but I don't think it'll be any different this time," said Steinmetz, who added that there is cause for optimism. Within three or four months, she could be stationed at bases in either the United States or Germany, she said.

While she's been home, there have been many highlights. Perhaps one that stands out among others was a recent trip she made to Linwood Elementary School, also where Steinmetz attended classes as a youngster.

There at the school, Steinmetz -- in her desert combat uniform -- spoke with kindergarten through fifth-grade students. Last school year, a first grade class from LES wrote to Steinmetz while she was overseas. The elementary school students were quite respectful of the veteran.

It was one of the many highlights (of being home)," she said. "I was really impressed with their questions and how well they paid attention.

In return for coming to the school, students threw Steinmetz a surprise party and gave her a dozen roses. Cupcakes and flowers are quite a leap from combat rations and mortar attacks.

"I'm just happy I could help broaden their horizons," she said.

Steinmetz is next scheduled to return home in July 2005. She said it will be tough to leave behind friends and family but that she has faith that she'll see them all again shortly.

"You never know for sure, but I know I'll see them soon, relatively speaking," she said.

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