At 2 a.m., Jennifer Grubb heard a whistle. It was the first mortar attack on her base in Afghanistan.
“I wasn’t scared in that moment,” she said. “The fear doesn’t come until afterwards, while you’re waiting for the next one.”
In 2003, at just 20 years old, Grubb went to Afghanistan as a paralegal and combat lifesaver in charge of security. She learned to provide basic medical aid for injured troops until medics arrived. “That was my first experience with medicine, and I loved it,” she recalled.
But there was little to love in the suffering she witnessed. She drove through minefields, pulled security details during attacks and watched as friends died. She saw civilians wounded in the conflict and children with missing limbs.
“I saw so many gruesome sights,” she said. “I just hated where I was and decided my best route was just to feel nothing. … I started writing less, I started calling less, I started eating less.” She lost 80 pounds, and her heart rate soared. Eventually, she was medically evacuated out of Afghanistan and later awarded an honorable discharge for her time in service.
Grubb, one of many veterans in the IU community, is now a student in Immaculata’s second-degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.