NC Military Voices: Tarsha Burroughs
Raleigh resident and Purple Heart veteran Tarsha Burroughs decided to join the Army Reserves after studying education. She was in the middle of teaching a high school math class when she got the call to prepare for deployment.
She spent 18 months in Iraq, working first as a tower guard in Baghdad then as a gate and convoy guard for Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.
"It made you pretty much a sitting duck," she recalled.
She got through it with a combination of prayer, faith, and a coping technique she called “a lot of nothingness.”
“You don’t think about home, you don't think about people in your tent, you don’t even think about anyone outside that immediate area where you are, because the moment you allow yourself to feel, you become susceptible,” said Burroughs. “You can’t let your mind wander because that puts you at a decreased sense of awareness. That whole desensitizing is how you manage, but then it becomes a problem when you try to activate that part of yourself again. It’s easy to get there, it’s not easy to return.”
In May 2004, toward the end of her deployment, Burroughs was wounded in a mortar attack.
“A mortar round, it sounds like sort of like you’re popping the top on a can of soda,” said Burroughs. “The next thing I saw was light, and the next thing I remember was waking up in Jerusalem, which is the makeshift hospital they medecvaced me to.”
Burroughs spoke with her two friends, Chandel Boone and Chanda Littleton, about her military service and her path to recovery from her injuries.
This conversation was produced by North Carolina Public Radio/WUNC – as part of StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative, and made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.