By Tyrone Beason
Pacific NW magazine writer
June 30, 2016
Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, America has raised a whole generation of service members and combat-hardened men and women — 3.6 million people as of last year — who’ve been trickling back into their communities and starting over as private citizens.
Many employers say military veterans are ideal job candidates because of their work ethic, on-the-job experience and leadership qualities.
AS MOST OF US got ready for bed on the night of March 19, 2003, Nicole Gadson got ready for war.(Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)
Halfway around the world in Kuwait, Gadson was at the wheel of a Humvee as part of the Stryker Brigade combat team that would soon lead the invasion of neighboring Iraq to topple the government of Saddam Hussein.
It was a strange turn of events for the New York City native, who now lives in Snohomish County.
After growing disenchanted with studying accounting in college, Gadson signed up for the Army in January 2001. On the morning of Sept. 11 that year, she was half asleep in physical training on base in Pierce County when news came about the terror attack on the World Trade Center back home.
Watching events unfold on a TV in the gym, she thought of friends and family who might be in harm’s way in New York.
And she realized one other thing.
“I knew we were going to war,” Gadson says.
In Iraq, Gadson’s most basic, yet greatest, achievement at any given moment was ensuring her own survival and the lives of everyone around her.
“I was just happy to see the next day,” she says. “If I woke up, I was good.”
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