“Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.” — Albert Camus

American FlagCan you name a serendipitous moment that changed your life? I can trace my life’s path to several and maybe I’ll cover the complete list in a future post. For now, I think one of those happenchance moments occurred yesterday when a soldier, named Nick Sloan left a comment on the Professional Wandering post on my personal blog.

Let me first explain something about the war. I don’t care about it. I was against it from the start, I’m frustrated with the current administration and think it’s a shame that so many Americans have lost their lives or become permanently disabled while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Whenever Anderson Cooper is doing a segment about the war, I change the channel. When I read The New York Times, I skip over the Iraq war coverage. Quite frankly, it depresses me. So I take the “out of sight out of mind” approach and just ignore it.

In the two years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve only mentioned the Iraq war twice. Once about the time I sat next to the soldier-for-hire on a flight home from a London work trip and another when discussing the financial burden on families left behind while soldiers serve. Even then, read between the lines and you’ll sense my guilt about not helping or caring.

I’m wondering if Nick will finally be the one to make it personal for me and in turn, I start to care. We have to care to make a difference, don’t we? Nick and I are from very different worlds. I’m a forty-year-old gay woman, liberal, and living what I consider to be a nice life in sunny Newport Beach. Nick is twenty-six, last lived in conservative Colorado Springs, engaged to be married and is an Air Force officer currently deployed to Baghdad.

So what’s the connection? Money. Or more precisely, writing about money. When I clicked over to Nick’s Journey to Financial Freedom blog, he immediately got bookmarked and added to my favorites. Why did Nick go to Iraq? The short answer is money but I’ll let Nick elaborate below.

He writes, “I volunteered to come to Iraq because of the extra money I earn while here. I’m using that money to get out of debt and get a new start on my financial future.”

“I was in so much debt at home that I could barely keep my head above water. My answer: volunteer for Iraq. Obviously, that is not a course of action that would appeal to most people. I would like to leave aside any and all considerations of political views or other commentary on the war there. That is not what this blog is about. This blog is about money and investments. Before I came to Iraq, I had neither. You may be wondering, ‘What is so good about coming to Iraq?’ Well, I can list the advantages here.” Nick’s a smart guy now when it comes to finances!

He continues in another post about how he went from nearly $70,000 in debt and whittled it down to under $12,000… in less than a year. His tour lasts another 11 months and I intend to be rooting for his debt elimination throughout the rest of his journey. That’s his money story. What about his safety? Let’s talk about the risk.

After an insurgent lobbed a mortar into the Green Zone and it shook him out of bed, he said, “It makes you think about what is really important in life.” Then writes, “It got me to thinking about what would happen if I died. Since I am very financially minded at the moment, I was thinking mostly about finances after my death. Technically speaking, I am worth a lot more dead that alive.” He continues on and discusses his life insurance policies and how his fiancée and mother would benefit upon his death.

Nick is risking his life to get out of debt. Today’s What Would You Do post begs the question: would you? Please comment below.

In the meantime, I’ll be reading about his journey. And finally, as most of us enjoy a day off, I want to publicly thank Nick Sloan for serving our country. Whatever his reason… financial or otherwise… he is a hero!

Nick, I wish you financial freedom, safe keeping and Godspeed! Happy Fourth of July!