One decade after he was deployed to Afghanistan, Army National Guard veteran Richard Gustafson still looks back on the experience and the friends he met fondly, despite the challenging circumstances of war. 

“It brought me to a deeper understanding of humanity and how we’re all that connected,” Gustafson said. “And it brought me a new respect for different cultures and a new appreciation for having more peace and diplomacy than state-on-state aggression.”

Gustafson served in the Army National Guard from 2007 to 2014, following a family tradition of military service. His mother, Jenifer, was in the Army Reserves, and her brother also served in the Army. Gustafson’s paternal grandfather served in the Marines. 

“It was always present in my life, and something that I admired a lot,” Gustafson said of military service. 

He and his wife, Sally, both attended Oconee County High School but met after they had graduated.

Gustafson decided to join the military not long after he started attending the University of Georgia. As he sees it, the National Guard gave him the ability to pursue his college education and serve his country. 

For more on this story, see the Nov. 19 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website.

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