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Through the 11 of Us project, WNPR and CPBN's Institute for Advanced Media are sharing eleven personal stories from veterans and those in their community.In the series, veterans talk about their service and what it means to be a veteran.CPBN is hosting a clothing drive for veterans and their families in Connecticut. Bring new clothing with tags still attached, or gift cards for the purchase of new clothing, to CPBN at 1049 Asylum Avenue in Hartford, attention Mike Komrosky. The drive ends November 17.11 of Us is made possible by Victory Energy Solutions and New England Conservation Services.

Female Veteran Says Military Service Gave Her Confidence

"I realized that’s where I'm going to be, like this is home for the next nine months."<br><em>Emily Hein </em>

In the days leading up to Veterans Day, WNPR brings you stories from veterans and those in their community.

Emily Hein is a member of the Connecticut Army National Guard. She served in Afghanistan. 

"I signed up on my mother’s birthday, which she was kind of leery about. I began my career as a broadcast journalist in the Connecticut Army National Guard and became an officer then, which I chose transportation, not realizing initially that that would take me to Afghanistan where I went to in 2012 through 2013 as a platoon leader to about 55 soldiers and then a convoy commander also.

"On the way over I was able to get up into the cockpit of the C-17. I don’t even know if you’d call it a cockpit -- it’s like a big room -- and I was able to take pictures as we were coming in. I saw how vast and empty it really was. It just seems like there was really no one out there and then I realized that’s where I'm going to be, like this is home for the next nine months.

Credit Victor Suwatcharapinun / CPBN
Emily Hein

"The way I had to go out on these missions, I did about twenty the time I was there, and I really had to be OK that if I had to go, I was OK with that. And I’d tell my parents, I’d tell, he was my fiancé at the time, I said “If anything happens to me -- this place is very random -- it’s my time.”

Coming home, my mom, she was giving me a hug, and she started breaking down. She’s like “I just, I can’t believe, I can’t believe you’re back. I’m so happy. I didn’t know what to think and now I can relax.”

Credit Courtesy Emily Hein
Emily Hein is an officer with the Connecticut Army National Guard. In Afghanistan she was a platoon leader to about 55 soldiers and also a convoy commander.

"The Army itself is considerably male dominated. It’s just really knowing that it’s not easy because of the environment that it is, but it’s a great challenge and I’ve become so independent and much more confident and I’m able to transfer that to everyday jobs.

"I don’t know if, you know, if people would pick me out of a lineup and say ‘she’s a truck driver and she ran missions in Afghanistan."

Emily Hein now works for the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs.

Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.

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