April 12, 2012 —
Afghanistan National Army Sgt. Abbas, medic, 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps, treats a patient with a broken nose at Forward Operating Base Delaram II, Afghanistan, April 7. (Photo by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik)
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan (April 11, 2012) — The past 30 years have been tough for the Afghan people, but for one man who lived through them all, following his dream has positioned him to help Afghanistan toward a peaceful future.
For Sgt. Abbas, becoming a medic in the Afghan National Army was a way for him to pursue a career of becoming a doctor while still having the opportunity to serve his countrymen.
Sgt. Abbas joined in 2007, but the 45-year-old had a long career before that. After finishing school at 18, Abbas became a math and science teacher near his home in Daykundi province.
“I became a teacher because I like to help people,” said Abbas. “I wanted people around me to be well educated. That was before the period of the Taliban.”
During the rule of the Taliban, Abbas was not happy with the direction of Afghanistan.
“They closed down my school,” said Abbas. “The Taliban wanted to burn it down.”
Abbas added that local residents did not trust the Taliban because many of them were foreigners not from Afghanistan. After putting him out of work, Abbas was not a fan of many of the Taliban’s oppressive rules.
“We were just sick of the Taliban when the Americans came,” said Abbas. “It was time for them to go. We wanted our freedoms back.”
After more than a decade of working odd jobs when he could, Abbas joined the Afghanistan National Police in 2004 and was stationed in Kandahar as a patrolman.
“I joined the ANP because I wanted to help my country,” said Abbas. “It gave me a chance to support my family too.”
In 2007, Abbas left the ANP for the ANA so he could earn more money and help out Afghan service members in a different way. Abbas said becoming a medic gave him the chance to advance into the career he desires.
“I like to save peoples lives,” said Abbas. “In the future I want to be a doctor in an emergency room.”
Abbas is learning what he can from the unit’s doctor, 1st Lt. Jalali Aziz, 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps.
“Abbas is an educated person,” said Aziz. “He likes to serve his country, and he believes being a medic is a good way to help.”
Abbas says the hardest part of becoming a doctor in Afghanistan is the lack of medical schools.
“We don’t have a teacher to teach people to be doctors like in the United States,” said Abbas. “I am learning from our doctor here all the things I need to know.”
Abbas enjoys keeping soldiers healthy so much that he actually lives in the medical tent. He sleeps on a cot there while many of his peers go to their own rooms for sleep. He is always ready to treat soldiers and is always seeking to learn more from other medical professionals.
“I’ll be in this kandak still helping out, hopefully as a doctor in five years,” said Abbas. “I really enjoy serving with my people and caring for them.”
Abbas’ hard work does not go unnoticed by his superiors.
“There are many things I can say about Abbas. I could say good things about him all day,” said Aziz, 40, from Logar province. “Simply put, he’s one of the best.”