September 19, 2017
Retail therapy backblast – good things come in 5’s
September 19, 2017

FiA Iraq

  • When:
  • Q: Oorah
  • Pax:

As I write this, I’m a week out from returning from a deployment in Iraq.

When I first arrived, I was nervous and anxious. How would this deployment play out? Would I be able to support the mission effectively? Were my leaders going to be supportive or would I feel isolated? What would it be like to be confined to a small patch of desert in the Middle East for 6 months without the ability to leave? Would the guys accept or reject me as the only woman in the operations center? Was it going to be a lonely 6 months? Not to mention all this was in a combat zone.

Like every other Marine here, I had volunteered for the deployment and was grateful for the opportunity to serve overseas. At the same time I was also leaving behind a full life. Newly engaged and stationed in New Orleans, I loved my routine with the dogs, cooking meals, lazy weekends with my partner, volunteering, and working out regularly with my FiA NOLA Pax. All this would have to be put on hold.

With time, I would learn my deployment job well, settle in with my fellow Marines, Soldiers, and Airmen, and quickly get used to the concrete barrier walls around us to absorb the blast of potential enemy rockets and bombs. This was my life now. To combat anxiety and a 12-hour-day, 7-day workweek, I had to stay physically active.

Due to my schedule, workouts had to take place in the middle of the night, when most others were asleep. Alone in the gym, I made the best of it by pretending I was in an ashram, a place of meditation and reprieve. But I missed the camaraderie, comfort, and friendship of FiA. On top of it, I was one of very few women, so there was little interaction with other females in general.

Eventually, my shift changed, allowing workouts in the afternoon. I began inviting all the women I could find into an impromptu FiA Baghdad. Finally, I was no longer doing workouts alone.

At 123 degrees, it was too dangerous for us to do our thang outside, save for the very occasional short run, so we claimed some open territory inside the gym with our neon yoga mats and christened our AO The LZ. (That’s Landing Zone in military speak; Ladies’ Zone for us FiA types.)

Looking around the AO, it was easy to see Pax were having the most fun out of everyone. While the men lifted weights alone, did squats and pushups alone, listened to their headphones alone, Powder Puff, Bars, Wild Child, Oorah, Gypsy, Smokie, Bookworm, and Zelda laughed, talked about stuff back home, and lifted each other up through the stressful rollercoaster that is a deployment.


To stay connected, I kept comms with the FiA NOLA gals via Facebook, who would post backblasts that I used for our Baghdad workouts. One day, I even received a surprise care package from them! They had included books, health and beauty essentials, and even some awesome local FiA swag. This enormous gesture of thoughtfulness and generosity made me feel so grateful that it cemented my commitment to FiA. That was it; I would put every woman I knew into an emotional headlock from now on. In other words, I wanted to pay it forward.

I totally get now why women around the country get so excited about FiA. And yet it’s such a simple concept: get a group of women together to work out. But the impact it has on us is enormous.

Some of the best friendships are borne out of hardship; that’s why the military is known for camaraderie among its members. But so too does waking up early, in the dark, to do burpees, create that same esprit de corps among FiA women.

When I return to NOLA, there will be a month of R&R waiting for me. Lazy weekends with my fiancé and the dogs will resume, as will daily routines and work. I hope to focus on gratitude for life. I hope things that plagued me before will be less so.

Throughout it all, I will be showing up at workouts. I will continue with the loving beatdowns, along with the positivity, enthusiasm, and faith in humanity that FiA provides. I’m glad I got pulled into this community, and I can’t wait to Q when I get back.



  1. Stringbean says:

    Awesome words, and what an example for all of us. Thanks for sharing, Oorah, and thanks for your service.

  2. Thunder says:

    Great post Oorah! You are an amazing woman!

  3. Holy Toledo says:

    Thank you for your post … I love the statement “I hope to focus on gratitude for life.” We can all learn from those words and focus on our blessings.
    THANK YOU for your service to our country!

  4. ShakeNBake says:

    Thank you for sharing Oorah!! What a blessing this post is. Come home Safe and Thank you for your service!!!

  5. Smurfette says:

    This is so special and touching. Thank you for sharing your heart, and for your service to our country!!!

  6. Diego says:

    Oorah – you are such a blessing not only to FiA but to our country! Thank you for your service and your positive energy! 🙂

  7. Pocahontas says:

    Wow! Thank you for sharing and thanks for your service! I really enjoyed reading this – a great message.

  8. Hermione_GA says:

    Thank you for your service and for sharing this message! I don’t know how anyone could pass up a chance to join FiA after reading this 🙂

  9. Tongs says:

    Thank you for your service. We are all thankful to all that our servicewomen and servicemen give. I am so thankful that FiA came to the Crystal Coast, and the friends/family we have established. I love that you started an overseas group to raise morale, and work through the immense level of stress on deployment.

  10. Hemingway says:

    You are the BEST!! Thank you not only for your service to our country, but also your service to FiA. You reenergized our FiA Regional Leaders Facebook page and brought us all back around to the true purpose of FiA–#bettertogether, no matter where we are or if we get to see each other!

  11. Adi Serbaroli says:

    Wow – thanks for all the love ladies! Only just now seeing these comments. Glad to be part of a greater community around the country, doing what we do, together, even if geographically apart. – Oorah

  12. Bridget Frady says:

    Thank you for your service! I had tears as I read through your heartfelt testimony. It is an inspiration and motivation for me to not take the comforts of home or the amazing women who surround me for granted. And to make every day count! Hope your Group in FiA is going well.

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