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"I'd like new veterans to know, whether you feel like you need the help or not, as soon as you step off the plane home, find your veterans hospital and walk in the door." (Audio Interview, 49:57)

   Marva Lucille Gray
Collection image
Marva Gray [detail from video interview]
War: Iraq War, 2003-2011
Branch: Army
Unit: 261st Ordnance Company; 266th Ordnance Company
Service Location: Iraq
Rank: Sergeant
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As a newly single parent raising her son in Charleston, West Virginia, in the late 1980s, Marva Gray looked to the military as a source of stability and career advancement. Enlisting in the National Guard offered her the chance to pursue new opportunities and still care for her son. Her unit was activated shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, and she deployed to Iraq in early 2003. The two years she spent there, weathering shelling and IEDs, took a toll. Upon her return home, she found herself jumpy and plagued by insomnia. In her oral history interview, she encourages all returning combat veterans to seek care from the VA.

Interview (Video)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (37 min.)
Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
» 
Download: audio (57 min.)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Reasons for entering the service; encouraged by a neighbor to join the National Guard; found herself on a bus to basic training at the age of 29. (03:48) Incident with a drill sergeant insulting her background, but ultimately winning her respect. (02:19) Incident when her convoy was hit by an IED. (02:00)
Returning home; reception at airport in Puerto Rico; lots of homecoming parties. (01:24) Arriving in Iraq; cautioned not to go anywhere by herself; adjusting to always being escorted by a male. (03:01) Difficulties in readjusting to civilian life; insomnia; realizing in 2007 that she wasn’t fine; sought help from the VA. (04:20)
  
 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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