DANVILLE -- Everything's fine once a soldier comes home after serving during wartime overseas.
Wrong, says Terry Cropf.
Cropf found he was a different person after serving a year in Iraq as a medic in charge of a troop clinic.
He has included some of his journal, written while serving with the Utah Army National Guard, and details his struggles after his return in the new eBook, "Combat Support: The True Burden of Sacrifice."
It should be available in printed form in May or June. Cropf grew up in Danville and moved back in 2006.
"There were certain things I want to address to bring to light the roles of not just individuals I was deployed with but other roles," he said. "I want to give people credit I served with and supported me in my career," he said, adding he also wrote of the roles of people, including his wife, Shannon.
While he was in Iraq, she gave birth to their youngest daughter and ran their household of four children.
"Everybody takes on some type of role as soldiers deploy," he said. "Coming back is extremely difficult. I immediately went to PA (physician assistant) school and climbed back into the role as a father and a husband."
Shannon Cropf said holidays were especially tough while her husband was overseas. She moved the family from a suburb of Salt lake City, Utah, to Danville in July 2006 while Cropf still was in Iraq. He arrived home that November.
"I had no friends, no job. It was kind of a shock," said Shannon, who is from Utah. They have a son and three daughters: Dylan, 20; Destiny, 18; Dakota, 10; and Daelynn, 6.
"When he came home, he wasn't the same person, although he wouldn't admit it," she added.
Terry, now 37, was away 15 months, including three months in Texas.
"I think a lot (of service people) won't admit they come back different and won't get help," Shannon said.
"He didn't feel connected to his family," she added.
Her husband admitted he made some "horrible decisions that were extremely uncharacteristic of the person I was before I deployed."
He decided they would move to the Danville area so could go to PA school at Pennsylvania College of Technology. After graduating in August 2009, he started working at Geisinger Medical Center in March 2010.
Since the book came out Feb. 9, he said everyone has been supportive. He finished the book about nine months ago and found a publisher, Brighton Publishing, of Chandler, Ariz., about three months ago. The eBook is available for $5.99 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and smashwords.
"I hope it helps soldiers and their families and anyone dealing with returning veterans," Shannon said.
Cropf served at a convoy support center in Scania, Iraq, that he likened to a truck stop where troops came to rest and refuel. They treated soldiers if there were any attacks. Those with significant injuries were flown to Baghdad or a major combat hospital.
"I feel the true heroes are the guys on the ground who do the dirty work -- the trigger pullers," he said. "They are exposed to the enemy on a daily basis,"
In his first six months there, the medics treated local nationals for injuries including burns suffered from kerosene heaters and propane tanks. "Their families would bring them to us," said Cropf, a staff sergeant at the time. He now is a lieutenant assigned to the 3rd 103rd Armor Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard at Danville.
After moving from Danville, he joined the Army in 1997 and served four years. Eleven months later, he joined the Utah National Guard.
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