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Service In Afghanistan Pays For School
by Kate King

Photo Courtesy Kate King

Riley, left, and Moll in Afghanistan

For Moll, the decision was relatively easy, although the possibility of re-enlisting "has always been in the back of my mind." Moll describes himself as very focused on his schoolwork and looking forward to graduating and starting a career. He says he will not go back to serve overseas unless he is deployed before his contract expires.

"I think if it does happen I'm going to go without argument but it won't be the brightest day of my life because I'd have to put my life on hold again," Moll said. "I wouldn't be happy about going again but I'm going to go if I have to."

For Riley, the decision to not re-enlist was a little bit harder. Besides his initial reluctance to return to his studies, Riley also said that there are certain aspects about life as a soldier that he misses.

"I think about it a little bit," Riley said. "You really bond with the people that you're over there with."

Riley said that his family and girlfriend were the biggest reasons he decided not to re-enlist.

"All the people that are here were so worried while I was gone," Riley said. "I made them so nervous for a whole year and I don't want to do that again."

When they first returned to UConn after a year of active combat, Moll and Riley said things like loud noises and crowded parties made them nervous. A later, however, they say they are pretty much emotionally and mentally readjusted to civilian life.

"I know I'm back to normal right now," Riley said. "Every once in awhile I'll have a bad dream but it's nothing serious…I think a lot of it is just keeping busy and keeping your mind occupied so you don't even think about that stuff."

Besides his schoolwork, Riley also stays busy riding his motorcycle with other military veterans that he remains in contact with. Moll, too, is so occupied with schoolwork and other activities that he is not bothered by memories of combat.

"I'm not haunted by anything and I don't dwell on it," Moll said. "Alex and I, we live to the future now."