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AARP Bulletin

Why Older Americans Are Working In Afghanistan

These folks chose a war-torn country to work, serve and live out a dream

Lindsey Pleasant, Older workers in Afghanistan

Lindsey Pleasant, who has a 27-year military career, warns of the dangers about becoming complacent about IEDs. — Joel van Houdt

Lindsey Pleasant, 53, says he never considered himself to be "military material." He graduated from college with a degree in broadcast journalism. Then he joined the U.S. Army in 1985 in what was intended to be "a three-year enlistment."

Today, 27 years later, he holds the pivotal position of sergeant major. And he's not thinking about retirement just yet. The St. Louis native says he expects to stay in the military for another three years.

"I think soldiers are staying in longer than they were 20 years ago," says Pleasant, who plays bass guitar at Sunday chapel services.

When asked about what older soldiers contribute to the military and to the Afghanistan mission, Pleasant sums it up simply: "Experience."

Dr. Waheed Momand, Older Workers in Afghanistan

Waheed Momand, who returned to Afghanistan in 2004, has two military medals and a Ph.D. in medical cybernetics. — Joel van Houdt

Waheed Momand, 63, was one of many Afghan Americans who returned to their homeland to help rebuild the country. He had fled Afghanistan for California, but in 2004, the engineer went back to aid the U.S. Special Forces, diplomats, Afghan exiles and Kabul officials.

"I know that I'm far away from what I really wanted to achieve for this country, but I'm not giving up,'' he says. "I really want to make a difference."

"I'm just having fun being around soldiers," he says. "There are days when I have to remind myself that this is a war zone."

Denis D. Gray is a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press. He is based in Bangkok.

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