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Monday, 07 November 2011 10:49

Coming Home Under New Conditions

Written by Staff Sgt. Mike Norris

BAGHDAD - As U.S. forces prepare to leave Iraq, there is a lot of talk among service members about deployments past. Many soldiers have spent years of their life in Iraq and have seen the changes here firsthand.

Spc. Yaareb Hassan, a petroleum supply specialist with the 123rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Armored Division, may be on his first deployment, but he is no stranger to Iraq.

Hassan was born in Iraq, and for the first 28 years of his life, Iraq was not a place that he deployed to: it was home.

He spent several years working with U.S. forces before coming to America and joining the U.S. Army.

After graduating from Baghdad University in 2003, Hassan worked as an interpreter for U.S. Forces in Iraq. Following this job, he joined the Iraqi army as a communications officer.

With new equipment coming in from American forces, his ability to read English was beneficial. The technical manuals for new equipment received by the Iraqi army from the U.S. were written in English.

Hassan used his ability to read and comprehend English to train other Iraqi soldiers on the use of communications equipment.

After he finished his three year term in the Iraqi army, Hassan went back to work with U.S. forces as an interpreter. This position helped him receive a U.S. visa in August 2009.

When asked about his decision to move to the U.S., he stated that at the time, Iraq was not a safe place, and he wanted a good place to raise his children safely.

With the help of a fellow interpreter living in Utah, Hassan moved his wife and two children to the U.S. His friend was able to help him out until he got on his feet.

“He helped me a couple of months; then I picked it up from there,” he said.

Hassan was initially worried about whether or not he would be able to find a job once he got to the U.S. With reports on the news about high unemployment rates, he thought it would be several months before he could find a job.

“The first thing on my mind back then was to get a job, but the situation was not as bad as I thought it would be,” he said.

Hassan found that he had no problem finding work and that he was able to find a job in just a few weeks after arriving.

“I got a job as a driver, then as a medical interpreter, then as a refugee case manager for Catholic Community Services. I worked in that job for a year, then decided to join the Army.”

Although Hassan has years of experience as a translator for the U.S. military, he did not want to be an interpreter when he enlisted in the Army.

“My recruiter asked me to join the Army as a linguist,” he said. “I said, ‘Nope, I already did that for six years.’ I know how to do it, and I’m not going to go to school for it.’’

Hassan joined the Army to earn his citizenship and help plan for his future life in America. He plans on using his G.I Bill to pay for his wife to go to college.

Soon after joining, Hassan found himself back in Iraq - this time wearing the uniform of an American solider.

“When I left Baghdad, I wondered when I would see this place again, and two years later, here I am,” he said.

Hassan is assigned to the 123rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Armored Division, where he is conducting convoy operations to resupply bases all over Iraq. Although the army trained him to be a petroleum supply specialist, he is working as in interpreter assisting a convoy escort team.

During convoy missions, the 123rd BSB often receives assistance from the Iraqi Federal Police, and Hassan assists his convoy commander by translating during the coordination process.

The work he is doing now often takes him by many of the places that he worked at as an interpreter, and sometimes even close to his old home where his mother and brother still live.

“It’s hard being that close,” he said. “But I don’t want someone to harm them because they are my relatives. I don’t want to put them in that situation.”

With the work that Hassan has done to help bring stability to his country, perhaps one day he will be able to safely visit his family.

November 07, 2011: Written by Staff Sgt. Mike Norris, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division

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Last modified on Monday, 29 November 1999 16:00
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