First Draft, Need Critique

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Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:13 am

First Draft, Need Critique

Postby jessie » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:45 pm

This is my first draft. I wanted to get across two major points about myself (my career and the struggle I went through with Chiari), but I'm not sure if I transition well between the two points. Does it seem like I'm just jumping back and forth between the two areas or does it flow?

I also really need to tweak the conclusion. I don't think it's very strong, so any comments on that would be greatly appreciated.

Keep in mind that I'm applying on active duty so my job post law school would be decided for me.

I knew something was wrong with me, but when I saw my MRI for the first time, I didn’t know what to think. “You have a Chiari Malformation.” This was not something I had ever heard of, nor had anyone mentioned as a possible explanation for the problems I had been having. The doctor explained. “This is what a normal brain looks like—and this is what yours looks like.” In a way, I was also relieved. There was an explanation. It was no longer just “all in my head”, except that it was, literally. That was the beginning of a very long journey which involved visits to multiple specialists and brain surgery. It almost ended my career as an Army officer, something I had fought for and which I was not ready to give up.

I had the privilege of deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom six months after I graduated from college. Like most second lieutenants I was assigned as a platoon leader. At the time I had almost no real-world experience and no experience leading troops. However, unlike most second lieutenants I didn’t get to learn in a training environment. I took over my platoon in Baghdad.
It was a “learn on the fly” situation. I had seventy engineer Soldiers and over $7,000,000 worth of equipment. Our missions were everywhere in and around Baghdad, with our platoon often working two or three missions at the same time. We both repaired roads damaged by explosions and cleared debris in order to prevent terrorists from using them as hiding places for more explosives.
During one mission we worked with the Iraqi Army engineers in order to train them on concrete repair. They seemed fascinated by the concept of a female Soldier, especially an officer, and would stop everything to take pictures of and with me. I didn’t know whether to feel like a celebrity or a circus freak, but in the end the experience was very rewarding. Despite the difficulty of relaying technical information through an interpreter, we managed to successfully train their unit.

Seven months after returning from Iraq I began to have strange symptoms—horrible headaches, double vision, and random muscle spasms. No one could give me an explanation and it started to affect my ability to give 100% at work. When I was diagnosed with Chiari Type I, my neurosurgeon gave me the option to have the surgery or not. It was risky and there was no guarantee it would fix any of my symptoms. It could have made them worse. But one thing was for certain—if I did not get the surgery there was no way I could stay in the military. For me, there was no option.

It has been over a year since I had brain surgery. Because of the efforts of my doctors and the support of my unit and my family, I now only have a large scar on my head to remind me of the pain and what I almost lost. Recently I was promoted to captain and moved up to a staff position in which I have been dealing with many legal aspects of the military. I have found that I am very good at focusing on the details and the military regulations to make the right decisions and I feel that this is something I would like to continue doing, as a JAG lawyer. I am extremely grateful for the support the Army has given me and I would like to continue to serve my country as a lawyer, where I will be able to support others.

Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:27 pm

Re: First Draft, Need Critique

Postby sfamor » Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:22 pm

Awesome statement. Very compelling and well-written. The only minor suggestion would be in the second to last sentence change "I feel" to stronger language.

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