Ellen Ross, a freshman radiology major from Broken Bow, passes time in her convoy truck while serving in the Army in Kuwait and Iraq. Ross said readjusting to life on campus is harder than she thought it would be.
Ellen with two other women from her group, stop to take a picture during night training.
Ellen stands on a tank with men from her platoon with Nebraska Husker jerseys. They supported their team by wearing numbers 1, 12, and 5.
As a freshman, Ellen Ross wasn’t enrolled for long in the fall 2008 semester before she was sent to basic training for the U.S. Army. Now in 2010, she is once again at UNK thinking about signing for another leave of duty.
Ross’s face lights up when she talks about what drew her to the Army.
"When I was 17 years old, a lot of my friends were joining. This made me interested, so I went and talked to a recruiter," she said. "My family didn’t take the news very well. My mother was very upset and worried. She didn’t want me to be deployed."
She laughed out loud when she thought about getting ready for basic training.
“I had heard it was scary and they made people cry. I heard right. It was pretty tough. I flew out for training November of 2008, then was sent to California in April of 2009. I was able to go home for a month, then flew out to Fort Stewart, Ga. for more training. Then on July 8, I flew to Kuwait and Iraq in August. "
Ross did not fight on the front lines but provided convoy security to get supplies to those who did.
"I was an MOS or truck driver. We were in charge of convoy security. We drove supplies from base to base with toiletries, food and other things for the soldiers,” she said. “Going out on these missions was my favorite part. I was able to see the whole area. There were times we wouldn’t have a mission for a month or we'd have one everyday. It just depended."
When the time came, she was ready to go home. "I was so excited when I heard I was coming home. I was ready to see my family," she said.
But being back in the States was harder then than she thought it would be.
"For me, it was hard. I need structure and someone telling me when to get up, where to be, what to do, so coming back and not having that was the hardest part."
Would Ross go back for another tour?
“I'm thinking about it," she said with a frown. "It's an easy way of living, and I would definitely want to do it again. If I do sign for a second time, I would be gone for a year in Afghanistan. Iraq was a lot safer then Afghanistan, so it is a little scary."
Ross's family was not the most supportive of her decision to join the Army, but her views are different.
She says she would support her future children joining the Army.
“It's an amazing opportunity,” she said.