Travis has served in the U.S. Army for the past 11 years. Prior to this trip, his only travel outside of the country was on deployment, in Iraq and Egypt. His unit maintains security for dignitaries visiting conflict zones.
Given his training, Travis has naturally fallen into role of protector for the group. Not only because his girlfriend, Suzie, is on the trip, but because it’s what comes naturally to him.
Each time we travel anywhere as a group — and we’ve done a lot of that — Travis brings up the rear. He walks with his head on a swivel and has quickly assessed every situation that seemed odd, unusually or potentially awkward or dangerous. These have included drunk men on the street making cat calls to a strange scene on the walk back to El Limon where a car was parked in the middle of the street and oddly surrounded by large plastic soda bottles filled with water.
Travis graduated last May with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He is finishing a second degree in psychology now and plans to work in a rehabilitation capacity with juvenile offenders.
After our visit to the Gallery of Heroes and Martyrs in Esteli, Travis reflected on the experience of Dona Mina and her son, who left to fight at age 14.
“As a person who joined at 17, I understand him wanting to go. But as a parent, I know how hard it must have been to let him go,” he said. “It’s ridiculous. I feel like, we didn’t do it, but our government is who killed him. It makes me ashamed. It was the most emotional day I’ve had so far. It was so hard.” (Travis has a five-year-old son.)
His experience as a member of the U.S. armed forces has brought important and valuable perspective to the group during history lessons, as well. He has told us he joined when he was 17 to protect the ones he loves. He does what he does, he says, so others don’t have to not because he blindly supports the actions and decisions of the government.
“I don’t fight for a government. I fight for my family,” he said. He plans to remain on active duty until he is eligible for retirement.
We are grateful for his service and his willingness to share his experience with us, in the form of protection and information that has enriched our own understanding.