"I miss Iraq. I miss my gun. I miss my war."
March 21, 2007 10:32 AM   Subscribe

A Soldier's Lament by Brian Mockenhaupt in Esquire, brought to you via MSN. We've seen a similar post by a Marine officer recently, but I liked the tone of this one a bit more because it does a better job of showing us the inside of a warrior's head.
posted by pax digita (43 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
By the way, the article also mentions the head wound to Sgt. Wells that was FPPed the other day.
posted by pax digita at 10:38 AM on March 21, 2007

"...it does a better job of showing us the inside of a warrior's head.

...the article also mentions the head wound to Sgt. Wells"

You did that on purpose.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:48 AM on March 21, 2007

"This is my weapon. This is my gun. This one's for fighting. This one's for fun."
posted by grytpype at 10:49 AM on March 21, 2007

That was fascinating. It was freaky and scary and sad and sometimes understandable and also horrifying. Vetern's minds must be so awfully confused all the time. Thank you for the post.
posted by aacheson at 11:01 AM on March 21, 2007

mr_crash_davis, I apologize, but no, I did *not* do that on purpose.

If that had occurred to me, I really would've chosen to phrase it differently, believe me. I'd mentioned here in the blue that a co-worker's son, a Ranger, was badly injured last month in a helo crash, and one of his more serious problems is turning out to be moderate brain trauma that's still being evaluated, so I'm more sensitive than ever to bad things happening to folks' noggins. (I've had three concussions my own self, come to think of it.)

grytpype, I thought of that as well. Also, to me a "gun" is something that's on a ship, is designated by a mount number, and a bunch of gunner's mates and fire-control technican ratings responsible for it, and is not for fun.
posted by pax digita at 11:05 AM on March 21, 2007

The suffering and ugliness I saw disgusted me. But war twists and shifts the landmarks by which we navigate our lives, casting light on darkened areas that for many people remain forever unexplored. And once those darkened spaces are lit, they become part of us.

That was an amazing read, horrible and frightening, and yet illuminating at the same time. Thanks for the post.
posted by jokeefe at 11:08 AM on March 21, 2007

What an excellent article! Thank you. I've never seen it put so well as in that article.

I truly believe that violence is addictive. I grew up in a very violent household. I learned about it from an early age. There's nothing that can compare to the utter clarity that comes along with a true emergency and the absolute euphoria (short-lived though it was) that I experienced when it was over. All bets are off, all responsibilities and daily worries are erradicted. It's never mystified me that victims of abusive relationships go on to other abusers. I spent my late teens and early twenties feeding my addiction to violence and excitement.

I don't know if there's a gender component to it, but I got over it (I'm the only female sibling in my family), and my brothers didn't. My next oldest brother joined the 82nd airborne, and my youngest brother still lives a life in total upheaval.

There are still days that my (calm, structured) life seems utterly unreal. I still suspect that I create chaos in my life in a feeble attempt to recapture that high. I salute the writer of this article for his candor and self-awareness.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:10 AM on March 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Great article.
posted by Kikkoman at 11:19 AM on March 21, 2007

it does a better job of showing us the inside of a warrior's head.

posted by quin at 11:32 AM on March 21, 2007

Having read Bill Mauldin's Up Front and Michael Herr's Dispatches, each acclaimed in its day, and being the son of a WW II combat veteran, some of this was pretty familiar to me. I've had veterans of other wars confide similar sentiments to Mockenhaupt's (some of them in the context of anecdotes I'd rather not recount here in the blue -- I understand kids can read these threads too).

The Light Fantastic, the person who made me aware of the FPP'd article is a fellow PTSDer who also mentioned that the article "describes an aspect of PTSD I’m not sure we ever really get over – the adrenaline high of constantly living in crisis."

You either come to grips with it or you don't. My background is similar to yours, to the extent you describe it, and I'm still grappling with compartmenting and channeling the aftereffects appropriately, well into middle age. So far it's cost me a marriage (that probably wouldn't have worked anyway) plus a lot of wasted time and energy figuring out more appropriate ways to deal. I hate that I'm better with extreme situations than more normal ones.

on preview, quin, yeah, I'll be regretting that for a good while yet.
posted by pax digita at 11:37 AM on March 21, 2007

On a less snarky note, the article really reinforces the help these soldiers are going to need readjusting when they get back home. He goes on at length about how he misses the excitement, and I understand that. And that he is able to articulate that longing in written form is a good thing. But what about all those that don't have that ability? Will those that don't get help, who continue to crave the adrenalin rush that combat provided them be able to happily reintegrate into society, or will they compensate for their needs through picking fighting or worse?

I'm quite certain that the vast majority of them will be fine. But because of the military stigma against seeking help, how many won't?

We demand that any officer who shoots someone in the line of duty seek counseling until we are certain he or she is in the right frame of mind to be out on the streets, wouldn't it be a good idea to apply this same treatment to our soldiers?
posted by quin at 11:46 AM on March 21, 2007

quin, that makes a hell of a lot of sense.

I recall we had another recent IraqFilter thread about PTSD. It seems the Army is having a terrible time acknowledging it institutionally (first link I found) and the VA is tremendously underequipped to manage the influx of people needing help.
posted by pax digita at 11:56 AM on March 21, 2007

McCarthy misses the war just the same. He saved Wells's life, pressing a bandage over the hole in his head. Now he's delivering construction materials to big hotel projects along the beach in South Carolina, waiting for a police department to process his application. "The monotony is killing me," he told me, en route to deliver some rebar. "I want to go on a raid. I want something to blow up. I want something to change today." He wants the unknown. "Anything can happen, and it does happen. And all of the sudden your world is shattered, and everything has changed. It's living dangerously. You're living on the edge. And you're the baddest motherf**ker around."

Yeah, sounds like a prime candidate for a future cop. Yikes.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:25 PM on March 21, 2007

These thoughts are age old. I have a (much older) cousin who got back from Vietnam (which he loved), couldn't hack it as a civilian, and promptly decided to join up with mercenaries in Angola, where he seemed to at least come to terms with it and lead at least a less overtly violent life than he did.

There have been countless works of fiction and non-fiction about this same subject over the centuries. I do not mean to diminish this person's experience... at all, nor am I unsympathetic to it, but what's new here?

The idea that existence is a soldier in war-time is more meaningful, more urgent, more certain, than the humdrum existence in shades of gray back on the homefront, has been around since the first homo sapiens sapiens threw the first rock at the second.
posted by psmealey at 2:02 PM on March 21, 2007

It seems to me that since these young men and women are volunteers, and that in recent years volunteering means "going to Iraq," that a lot of them are adventure-seekers by nature. So it's not surprising that some of them are going to miss being in-theater when they get out.

This is especially true if they saw action and got through it unharmed, like a hero in a movie or role-playing game. This is not the inside of a warrior's head, it's the inside of an adventurer's head. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It was an interesting read.
posted by moonbiter at 2:03 PM on March 21, 2007

Combat Sweet Combat, there is something special about shitting yourself in fear only to realize it doesn’t matter either way, so like fuck it, get some. Don’t worry that queasiness in the stomach isn’t your conscience it’s the adrenaline wearing off. Shit, what do you know, no more stuffy nose. Did someone just repaint the world in absolutes on the border of conviction?
It makes me want to go stand in front of the grade school with my axe handle restin on my beer gut, and beat the crapshit out of the next lard ass haulin’ Camary drivin’ through the school zone at 40 MPH. Yeah I'm talkin' to you fuck face with your contemptuous pseudo Socialist bullshit bumper sticker on the back. My dilemma has a first name its PTSD… It only hurts when it feels good, and ice will never taste the same.

Hum if you can,
Two old ladies lying in a ditch,
New born baby suckin momma’s tit,
Stone cold killer don’t give a shit,
Cuz Napalm sticks to kids.
Oooshaaaa Get On Down.

Fuck it. I did my job.
As that bald fucker Plato said, “Only the dead see the end of war.”
posted by MapGuy at 2:38 PM on March 21, 2007

Now that is why we truly cannot have nice things, ever.
posted by psmealey at 2:43 PM on March 21, 2007

"I truly believe that violence is addictive"

Yeah, but it's easier to redirect in a healthy manner than, say, heroin.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:05 PM on March 21, 2007

"I truly believe that violence is addictive"

"Yeah, but it's easier to redirect in a healthy manner than, say, heroin."

How so? In what possible way can it be redirected in a healthy manner? It's not like you wake up one day and say "I'm jonesing for a little chaos and mayhem, time to go to the gym." It affects the way you deal with everything: the choices you make, the people you associate with, the way you react to situations. Your perception of normal becomes changed, perhaps forever.

I can just see the VA telling these guys: "oh, you just need a hobby!"
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:24 PM on March 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

MapGuy writes "Combat Sweet Combat, there is something special about shitting yourself in fear only to realize it doesn’t matter either way, so like fuck it, get some. Don’t worry that queasiness in the stomach isn’t your conscience it’s the adrenaline wearing off."

This is my rifle, this is my gun,
I'm thinking about a soldier's cute buns,
Pound off,
Fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:43 PM on March 21, 2007

Terrific article.

Much of this has to be due to culture and circumstances, though - the fact that the current military is serving voluntarily and how the current crop of Americans are encouraged to seek out adrenaline highs and are well-versed in violence and instability from the kaleidoscope of terror so calmly relayed to us via the evening news. My grandfather and grand-uncle served in the 100th and 442nd, and how they and many of their comrades viewed their time as soldiers was much different. For them, it was an obligation to fulfill (not to mention an easily identifiable ideology to defend), and when they got back it was imperative that they forget the whole thing. They didn't tell their stories (until much, much later), and did everything they could to find solace in normalcy and routine. They had never meant to live as soldiers, so life without war was their true mission. And as mid-20th century Japanese, seeking everyday excitement was unnecessarily complicating and frivolous.

But that was a different culture and a different time, for better or worse. Personally and on a level 98% below what is written about in the article, I've just been waiting for a crapstorm to smack the fan at work, because it's been ridiculously boring having things go smooth for so long. I need me a crisis, stat, or I'm gonna go dull and unintelligent. I'm much better at managing shit than keeping a shine.
posted by krippledkonscious at 3:57 PM on March 21, 2007

This reminded me of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, which touches on the same kinds of issues, from a war correspondent's perspective.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:23 PM on March 21, 2007

It seems to me that since these young men and women are volunteers, and that in recent years volunteering means 'going to Iraq,' that a lot of them are adventure-seekers by nature.

I'm sure that's true for some people, but there are others who joined after September 11 because they wanted to defend their country, got sent into Iraq, and have been kept in the service due to stop-loss.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:17 PM on March 21, 2007

"I can just see the VA telling these guys: "oh, you just need a hobby!""

Well, I haven't killed anyone in a while.
...'course, the day ain't over yet, but still.

Apart from violent sports, martial arts, war games, etc. there is a wide variety of training and simulation activities, seminars, a whole slew of those kinds of things that can mitigate the need for that. You just don't use real bullets. Plenty of folks are willing to physically fight you under controlled circumstances.
What's always been the harder issue is dealing with the emotions and the attachment and self-identification with violence. If I'm not a bad ass- what am I? sorta thing. And of course the pain underlying it all. I'm not a therapist. But that's the gist.
And one can develop healthy outlets for those feelings and emotions and even the physical need for adrenaline and such.
Very few people learn how to deal with violence. Similar to sex in that regard, we leave it up to the social mores of parents and so forth and it's a sort of unstated thing in society. Which is a shame because it's a learned behavior. Like any learned behavior it can be controlled.
I tend to get arguments when I say that. You can train men to kill, you can train them not to. As you can train someone to be a warfighter, you can train them to be a civilian. It takes time, typically more one on one stuff, and other support.
What's going on is - we're not doing that.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:26 PM on March 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Nicely said Smedleyman. I really fear for these poor kids; I'm betting most will be just fine, but a few are going to snap, and it will be spectacular and tragic.

And when it happens, I bet the only mention of their time in the service will be to indicate that they were honorably discharged. No one will remark that this is where they got the skills to do the horrible thing they did, because while relevant, it's a necessary evil in our society.

What isn't necessary and what also won't be discussed is that after their time in the service, where they saw and probably did things they wished they could forget, we as a country, did nothing to help them.

[Here's to hoping I am totally wrong about all of this.]
posted by quin at 7:22 PM on March 21, 2007

Amazing article. Thanks, pax digita.
posted by homunculus at 7:58 PM on March 21, 2007

Yeah, sounds like a prime candidate for a future cop. Yikes.

That's a disturbing thought...
posted by homunculus at 8:05 PM on March 21, 2007

I wanna read MapGuy's story.
posted by SmarterChild at 9:43 PM on March 21, 2007

homunculus' link is definitely eyebrow raising. Especially in the context of this thread, but I feel the need to be an opposing voice here and point out that the vast majority of cops are not trigger-happy-killing-machines. (OK, at least not the ones I've met.)

Generally, cops are like teachers. They do a shitty job for lousy pay and no one respects the hard work they put in every day actively working to, if not make the world a better place, at least keep us on an even keel.

Cops really, in their heart of hearts, want to be good guys.

So let's now talk about the exceptions. Or, failing that, the police that believe they are helping, and yet still arresting the wrong woman after killing her pet dog.

Maybe it's a failure at the leadership level, where they are convinced that they are going into the worst of the worst of crack houses and are primed to take on all adversaries, be they real or imagined. Or more likely, they are given a lead which they think is solid and they, itching to use the expensive gear they have been given, over-react in a huge and deadly way.

The point is, that I believe that most of them ain't bad. Some may be misled. Some may be confused. And some may be really wanting to be the guy that gets the big bust. But the evil ones are few and far between.

In a perfect world, we could take the misled and confused ones and provide them with the training they need to not be who they were before, then we could weed out the wannabes and just have good cops.

But since that won't happen, how 'bout we just make sure that the really screwed up folk that are coming out of service in the military spend some quality time with a shrink before we ever even try to pigeon-hole them into the many problems with the police.

If nothing else, how about we just come up with a new problem designation for soon to be cops: Ex solider: treat with care. Do not arm. No public interaction.

At the very least, let's give them this label till they have had the therapy most cops get when they need it.
posted by quin at 10:37 PM on March 21, 2007

krippledkonscious - I keep meaning to make a post about the Nisei troops of the 442nd RCT - The Purple Heart Battalion, I'll redouble my efforts now I know we've a vet's relative on here.

If your family members are still alive let them know they're not forgotten and if they are not, then rest assured that their sacrifices in WWII were worthwhile and appreciated.
posted by longbaugh at 1:54 AM on March 22, 2007

These thoughts are age old. I have a (much older) cousin who ... promptly decided to join up with mercenaries in Angola

A fair number mercs fighting in Africa in the '60s were WW II retreads -- notably but not exclusively some Waffen-SS types who weren't necessarily true-believer National Socialists but were definitely warfighters -- who missed the action; the Légion étrangère had (and has) at least its fair share of "squaddies" who would feel like misfits anywhere but a combat unit. I know of one USMC Force Recon guy who got unofficially approached by the Israeli Defense Forces -- he's not even Jewish, either, AFAIK. And nowadays, here in the US we've got firms like SOS Temps and more famously Blackwater.

Oh, and, as usual, Smedleyman's take on the sitch pretty much gets to the heart of the matter. We don't detrain warfighters; we never recognized the need, even after WW II when there were hundreds of thousands of trigger pullers trying to reintegrate themselves into postwar American society. The Best Years of Our Lives sort of touched on that, as best it could -- it was a surprisingly controversial and cathartic film in its day.

One of Dad's anecdotes: He'd car-pool with some of the other guys at his first postwar job in New Jersey in '47. There was this one guy who nearly got them all killed a couple of times on the way to work because he just couldn't shake the habit of scanning the treelines for snipers, so by mutual agreement he was a rider in the pool but not a driver.
posted by pax digita at 4:58 AM on March 22, 2007

I once read a great article in, I think Playboy (but could have been Penthouse) called, "Why Men Love War." I've tried to find it again but my Mom threw those mags out years ago. Anyway, if anyone knows where to find a digital copy, it's worth the read. Anyone good at google?
posted by dontrememberthis at 7:12 AM on March 22, 2007

I found it! Why Men Love War
posted by dontrememberthis at 8:19 AM on March 22, 2007

I'm a man and I don't love war.

Women, beer, bacon, my family: these things I love. War, not so much.
posted by oncogenesis at 10:09 AM on March 22, 2007

Here's an interview with the author of a new book on Blackwater.
posted by homunculus at 11:41 AM on March 22, 2007

We don't detrain warfighters;

Is that true? One would think after decades of experience with PTSD-afflicted soldiers (they used to call it "shell shock" back in the day), that they would have to do at least some debriefing before releasing combat vets back into civilian life. Nothing at all?

As mentioned above, I was always curious that WWII vets, almost to a man, refused to talk about their combat experiences until years later, and then hardly ever with outsiders. I had always assumed that this was part of their instruction upon leaving the service (perhaps an early, crude attempt at managing PTSD).

Or, was this silence a result of a warrior's innate knowledge that talking about it doesn't make it go away, and no one who hadn't been there could possibly understand it anyway?
posted by psmealey at 12:47 PM on March 22, 2007

Doubt cast on definition of PTSD
posted by homunculus at 3:30 PM on March 22, 2007

“One would think after decades of experience with PTSD-afflicted soldiers...”

Indeed, one would think. There is, to be fair, some therapy and such, just not on the scale or intensity of training that, say, boot camp has or advanced training, etc.
I’ve caught some flak in explaining that I take Aikido to unlearn killing when I fight hand to hand. As usual people focus on some sort of technique like I’m a ninja or something. Killing is not in the technique, it’s in the man.
Someone has to be a cop. A soldier. Typically it’s someone with a higher aggression level. You think Woody Allen would make a good soldier? It’s not purely genetic of course. A higher aggression level (or any life path really) stems from a self-reciprocating set of values. And there’s universal recognition that we need discipline to control and focus that aggression in the right way - whether directed at ‘enemies’ or diffused. With discipline comes a learned set of behaviors - in the case of the military those reflexes are trained in killing (and making beds correctly). One can be disciplined otherwise. You can train not to kill. I’m doing it now. But there is no discipline set to retrain reflexes for peace. Because it’s not something we think about or have to think about. For most of us, it’s our native tongue. And we’re stymied that a former native speaker has to be retrained in what was their native tongue.
Perhaps some of the resistance is due to the “there but for the grace of God go I” sort of thing. No one wants to think they can be a killer. But the fact of it is, we’re all sons and daughters of killers, (and the ruthless survivors over the time we’ve evolved).
We’ve had to learn not to. That’s civilization. It’s just that we’ve grown up with it so that we forget it’s a learned behavior.
Most people in the U.S. spend years in school learning how to get along with people who, mostly, aren’t trying to kill them. Military training takes that out of you. It’s a tap on the shoulder “hey, people will kill you. And when we send you here, people ARE trying to kill you.” Very tough to unlearn that. And indeed, acting as we do (in the U.S.) like people aren’t trying to kill us seems pretty naive. ‘Cos some people are. It’s just that they can’t get to us. Right now. But maybe some time, they can and will. But you can’t live like that. One of the blessings of civilization is the enforcement of laws that protect everyone from killing each other.
So bringing up the “people are trying to kill us” thing in that context is a little morbid. And for the most part you want to protect your family from the horrors of war. You don’t want to tell your wife or mom for example how horribly you might have suffered because she’ll feel it with you (I was dead for a few minutes, didn’t tell my mom until many years later).
I think it’s the duty of the returning soldier to speak though. Not only for the other men who make the sacrifice, but so society knows what it is they do when they ask men to make war. Some of us enjoy it, sure. But that should scare the hell out of everyone. That’s where civilization ends.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:30 PM on March 22, 2007

That's an interesting observation, Smedleyman.

The other day I was wondering about this. The I was looking at some photos from some protest in DC called the "Gathering of Eagles," which was a counter-protest to peace march being held the same day. Some of them captured a scuffle that happened when a Vietnam vet tackled an anti-war protester who "put his hand in his jacket as if he was reaching for a gun." It struck me as the oddest thing: who in his right mind would immediately think "that anti-war protester is reaching for a gun!"

Who indeed. You've just given me something of an answer -- someone who hasn't detrained his fear of other people trying to kill him. I think the mistake a lot of us make is that we think the problem is restricted to folks with clinical levels of PTSD -- the nightmare-having, the flashback-living, BDU-wearing basket cases we see stereotyped on television and in the movies. But there's a whole other level of folks out there, guys (and some gals) who've learned to think that this world is very, very dangerous and there are other people who want to kill them and it could happen at any moment. Even when it goes against rationality (in a peaceful civilian context).

It's true that the world is a dangerous place, but it's not as dangerous as they think, nor in the way that they think. The guy who tackled the peace protester is far more likely to get killed in his car on the way home than to ever be shot, but that's not something he learned to think about or to have anxiety for. Of course this higher-than-normal level of insecurity is not limited to ex-soldiers, but it strikes me that they are a population that might be susceptible to this type of thinking.

Regarding Why Men Love War: the thing is, these men who claim to love war, and claim that most men deep down in their hearts love it as well, only saw war from the the point of view of an armed soldier invading a foreign land. It's not war itself that these guys love, it's the feeling of power, of adventure, of purpose, and the feeling of belonging to a group of like-minded men, without the fear of devastating loss of home and hearth and family. The war (or wars) they were in gave that to them, so they think that is what they love.

With few exceptions, those men on the other side -- the defenders, the ones who live through the death and destruction and loss, the ones who are on the receiving end of that firepower, don't seem to love war so much. Those that were rounded up and put into prison camps are notably unenthusiastic about it.
posted by moonbiter at 1:49 AM on March 23, 2007

One would think after decades of experience with PTSD-afflicted soldiers

My dad wasn't really a warfighter per se. He was an armorer (a gun fixer) in an artillery outfit but wound up in some fairly hairy situations and had to see and do some stuff nobody should, really. He had about the expected level of trouble dealing with it afterward. I'll spare you the secondhand horror show, but he chain-smoked in the dark all night long, alone at kitchen table, for decades, and didn't really start talking until (mostly to me, since I was around a lot) the last few months, after Mom had passed. He was relatively lucky in that he was in the Army Occupation Group in Austria and sort of decompressed and healed helping to rebuild the area he was in. Even that was kind of grim in its own way at times, although Austria (his part of it, at least) hadn't been all that shot up. He got home in (I think) fall of '47. By then, people were so beyond the phenomenon of servicemen returning home that he had to walk most of the way from Fort Dix to Flanders, NJ because he couldn't readily thumb a ride in uniform.

In the Army, guys waited to get their discharge points and came home in dribs and drabs, more rarely as units, and demobbed by getting run through a sort of assembly line. There wasn't any kind of debriefing that he mentioned other than making sure his assigned personal equipment (a weapon, etc.) and paperwork were squared away -- certainly no therapy that might've helped with a couple of the things he told me about. Guys from that era learned to deal with it and work through it and somehow came out largely all right (or sometimes not, like the car-pool anecdote). Back then you were expected to be the strong, silent type, just shut up and deal -- remember Patton slapping shell-shocked soldiers? -- and only your wife and maybe your kids knew about the nightmares. Guys would go the VFW or get to talking in the barber shop, reminiscing in a fascinating sort of shorthand that I've also heard Vietnam vets do...sort of not-quite-finishing each others' highly elliptical, trailing-off-to-extended silence sentences, even though one guy was on New Guinea and my Dad was in the Lorient pocket.

The big unifying thing, I think, for the World War II guys was that there were so many of them who shared a common set of experiences -- mostly for no more than two years, sometimes up to three and a half, and there was this sense that the thing was finished by fall '45 and the time had come for almost everybody to start transitioning. In Vietnam, a lot of people did their year and came home; some people went back or stayed for additional tours. When they came back, it was individually, and I've heard enough anecdotes about going from a firefight to a hometown street or a rock concert within 96 hours or so that it's gotten to be a Vietnam cliché anymore.

With few exceptions, ... the ones who live through the death and destruction and loss, the ones who are on the receiving end of that firepower...

Older folks have told me that Gone with the Wind was wildly popular in the South and the Atlanta area in winter '39-'40 especially. I have a friend whose postmodern hip detached irony affords her the luxury of laughing out loud at parts of it, but other parts were decidedly unfunny for the children and grandchildren of those who'd experienced the brunt of Sherman's March to the Sea.
posted by pax digita at 6:16 AM on March 23, 2007

I finally read the whole article. My son Robert said many of these same things. Talking to Robert about Iraq was a lot like talking to my sister, who is an EMT, about going on her runs.

"We both came back from Iraq, luckier than many. Two of my wife's students have been killed, among the scores of journalists to die in Iraq, and guys I served with are still dying, too. One came home from the war and shot himself on Thanksgiving. Another was blown up on Christmas in Baghdad."
posted by taosbat at 12:30 PM on April 9, 2007

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