Phil and Tasha Saladin – Our Military/ZCS Story

Tasha’s Service

I served a little over four years as a medic in the Army. I went through basic, medic training and Airborne school, and was first stationed in Germany. In Germany, I served as a medic, and as the unit Armorer. The funny thing about the Army is you never know what job you are going to be doing.

After being stationed in Germany, I served at Ft. Hood, TX. The day I arrived at Ft. Hood, they told me I was deploying. Not long after, I deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a medic. Our unit took over an Aid Station on the airbase and served mostly minor illnesses. I volunteered to go outside the wire and was attached to an infantry/military police unit and spent about eight months patrolling on foot. They called it community policing. We lived in a small Afghani police station in tents.

For months we had no hot food or showers, and every once in awhile, we could go back to take a shower, get some hot food, and wash our clothes- this was rare, though. The Afghani police would make hot meals, and I ate with them often, so much better than an MRE. We spent time keeping a presence in the village to keep the Taliban from coming back. We kept the villagers safe by finding and calling in teams to detonate IED’s, providing some medical care, helping them clean up their villages, including putting in sewer ditches, providing school supplies to the children so they could go to school, the list goes on…

Of our platoon, there were only three females, and I was the only one who patrolled most of the time. I loved going out on patrol; many times, it felt like a parade. The children would run yelling “Angeli, Angeli..” which the translator told me meant woman/female. Sometimes I would take off my helmet so they could see I was a female. I loved giving hope to the women and children that someday they could be free again as women. Many times they would give me cakes or pomegranates as we would walk by, which was always a blessing.

I would send pictures home, and my friends and family would say it looks like you are on vacation, you smile so much. Let me tell you, patrolling is not a vacation, it is the most grueling work I have ever done, and my body still suffers for it. I was involved in some invasion operations and terribly scary situations. Some I didn’t know if I would survive, but I always had the presence of God with me. He always kept me safe, and I knew every day if it was a safe day or not- I give that to God. The only way I survived was because God was right there with me. Not a week after I left to go on leave, my platoon was hit by an IED, causing the death of one of my battle buddies, and severe injuries to two others. While this was many years ago, these soldiers are never forgotten, and my prayers still reside with them.

Phil’s Service

I first joined in 2006 as a national guardsman. Shortly after I joined, I went active duty, where I served in Germany, Ft. Hood, and two deployments to Iraq. While deployed to Iraq, my truck was hit by an IED. I was injured during the blast and received a purple heart for my injuries. I served seven years and four months, and I would do it all over again. I loved my service and duty to my country.

Where did Phil and Tasha meet?

Phil and I met at the mall at Ft. hood, Texas. Grand, right? We will forever laugh about how we met. We just started hanging out as friends and are now married with two kids. Funny how things work. I adore being married to a service member. We understand each other, we have the same crazy sense of humor, and we look at life in a different way I think. Phil is a great guy, and I am so lucky to have him in my life, God knew what he was doing. After we met, we realized we had followed each other around for a while, and never met, which is kind of crazy. We were both at the same base in Germany, both went to Ft. hood at the same time, both deployed at the same time, and came back around the same time- only to meet at the mall in Killeen, Tx.

What Tasha wishes people knew about life after military service.

This is a hard question. I have thought about it for quite a few days. I think it is fair to say that military service is a blessing and a curse. I had a lot of experiences I struggled with and did not care for. Still, I had an equal amount of experiences that changed my life for the better, made me a better person, and shaped my life. I would never be where I am today without it.

I think it is also fair to say that you should never judge a book by its cover. You never know what someone is dealing with daily. Most days I can wake up and go on with my life, and some days I can’t, or it’s harder. I have far more good days than bad days, but it’s a reality, and I think that reality is true for every soldier. None of us want to be treated differently, but down to the way your body works and brain functions, you just aren’t the same when you come back. Luckily we have a lot of training in “adapt and overcome,” and that’s what we do. We figure out what works and what doesn’t, and we move on with our lives.

I am personally also really disappointed by the political climate in our country. As someone who fought for freedom, it dismays me to see so much anger and hatred towards each other if beliefs are different. I wish so badly we could live in a world where no matter what beliefs others hold, we could embrace each other for who we are and the experiences that have caused us to believe in these ways. I have always been a big believer in accepting other people where they are, including their religious and political beliefs. Isn’t that what Jesus wanted?

What Phil wishes people knew about military service.
One thing that I wish people knew about veterans is that at one point in their life, they wrote a blank check to America, payable with up to their own life. This is a significant commitment that few understand. They can provide outstanding leadership skills in all environments. Military members are some of the most detail-oriented people and can accomplish tasks with minimal guidance. I would love for people to realize this skill before looking at veterans’ educational background when considering them for jobs. Veterans have an incredible skill set and high moral values, and these attributes should not be overlooked.

What brought you to ZCS?

When we lived in Texas, we dreamed of being able to live up north and give our kids the kind of education that ZCS gives- ok, maybe I dreamed of it. Phil dies inside a little bit every time it snows. We looked around quite a bit at schools for Noah. We visited a few different Christian schools in the area, and ZCS was a no-brainer for us. I grew up in a rigid Baptist school that was not a pleasant experience, so let me tell you, I am picky.

When you walk in the front door, it’s almost like you are getting a hug. I absolutely love the feel of ZCS. I love the passion for God at ZCS. I love the acceptance at ZCS. I love that you can love Jesus and still be a little bit laid back, laugh a little bit, love a lot. Those are all things that were missing for me when I was a kiddo. I also love how absolutely loved, and special you guys make my kids feel. I could not wish for a better experience for them.

We are blown away by the incorporation of language. Phil is a native Spanish speaker, so it was important to us that our children learn Spanish. We love that they also learn Mandarin.

***Tasha and Phil, thank you for sacrificing and putting your life on the line for all of us. We are honored you choose to make Zeeland Christian your school community.***

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