“I don’t feel good about it. It will bother me for the rest of my life and honestly I’m happy about that.
“I have professors at Columbia who view me as a terrorist for fighting in Iraq. But I believe that America is an example to be emulated, and I went over there to provide those people with basic human freedoms.
(2/2) “In Afghanistan I spent so much time imagining what it would be like when I came home. I built up this perfect world.
(½) “ I don’t think it’s possible to be a medic in a conflict zone and not have something stay with you.
(3/3) “After I had the flashback that night, two of the guys on my team came up to me and said: ‘You’re getting help.’ I said: ‘No I’m not.’ And they said: ‘Yes you are.
(2/3) “I kept having these nightmares of being trapped in a burning vehicle. They were non-stop. I’d wake up screaming and I couldn’t breath.
(1/3) “I was inside an armored carrier with my platoon commander. He tried to open a pressurized fuel container and it sprayed across the vehicle and hit a camping stove that he was using to make hot chocolate.
(2/2) “We celebrated my Dad’s 50th birthday two weeks before. It was a surprise party. I wanted to borrow Stephen’s truck to help pick people up from the airport, but he wouldn’t let me.
(½) “Everyone who comes back from deployment fills out a form. It’s a standard psychological evaluation.
(4/4) “He didn’t even tell me he was enlisting. He called his dad one day and said: ‘Don’t tell Mom.’ I remember it was Halloween.
(¾) “Sometimes my anxiety would get so bad that I’d turn completely white. I’d shoot out of bed some nights, and my heart would be racing, and I’d start running around the room trying to find stuff.
(2/4) ‘If you don’t do your job, people will die.’ That message was hammered into our heads during officer training.
(¼) “I was in charge of 250 Marines during my second deployment. We were assigned to a district called Sangin.
Many of you remember Sara from the Pediatric Cancer series last month. I’m very sorry to report that shortly after her story was published, Sara’s cancer returned very aggressively.
(3/3) “It wasn’t every second of every day. But sometimes I’d get this boiling feeling like there was mercury in my blood.
(2/3) “All we wanted to know was who the bad guys were. But nobody knew. We were getting picked off one by one and we couldn’t find the bad guys.
(1/3) “We got called out one day to assist a fuel convoy that was being pinned down by gunfire. They had stopped along an open field, and were taking fire from a tree line about 200 meters away.
(4/4) “I never thought Iraq was a good idea. I thought it was a stupid war. I remember getting into an argument with my Dad about it.
(¾) “You see this really fucking horrible stuff. You see guys blown to bits. You see dogs eating people.
(2/4) “The 2nd Battle of Fallujah began on November 8th, 2004. The plan basically called for the entire 1st Marine Division to form a giant line and advance through Fallujah from north to south.