Before he could heal, John Sims needed to understand that 30 years of service had taken its toll—not just on him, but on his family.
This essay is the first in a three-part series.
Dustin Jones prayed for contact, just a little bit of fire, to liven up the day. Imagine being at war in an unprotected position, hoping to draw a little gunfire.
"I saw them about a hundred yards away, amid a sparse herd of goats. They were playing, running, chasing each other. I wanted to see them close up. I wanted to photograph them," Dan Bellis writes, "but really, I just wanted to see them. I guess I wanted to play, too."
The Defense Department is investigating the orchestrated stalking and the deliberate collection, and distribution of photographs of active duty and veteran women. Dozens of victims were identified by their name, rank, and duty station.
"The days began to run together," Ryan Mallek writes. "Wake up around 1500, eat, shit, bullshit. Head to the work area about 1845; avoid the sewage, but still puddle through it. Fire up the MCTWS, cut, bend, weld, pile. The heat was unbearable."
She faced discrimination then, and she can handle the presumptions now. She is proud of her service, and doesn’t regret it, regardless of the invisible injuries it caused.
He feels guilty sometimes too about some of what he did and saw, but unless he’s had a drink or two, he doesn’t talk about that stuff.
He quietly departed his village alone and traveled to Kabul, where he began sleeping on the floor of a friend’s apartment. Without a job, he couldn’t afford to bring his wife and daughter with him, so they remained with Zabi’s father, who swore to protect them.
The Marine Corps taught me that despair and violence was renewing. In boot camp I shouted "kill" 100 times a day, and went to two church services back-to-back on Sundays. I prayed to kill. It would mark me, and yes, I believed, it would save me.
Read Peter's Story
The afghan girls I couldn't save
The reality, I think, is that I made no difference at all. They were never going to understand American-style policing. As long as the Afghans thought it was OK to treat women like property, like killing a woman was equivalent to killing a goat, then they were never going to understand higher-level concepts like voting, or free speech, or feminism.
A WAR THAT BEGAN AS CHILDREN
Wars were small, quick affairs involving special operators, U.N. peacekeepers and long-range bombers. A decade later, I found myself going back and forth with an antiwar protestor after covering a rally at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the student newspaper. I was learning an early lesson in journalism: admit personal views at your own risk.
YEARS LATER, LOSS AT WAR RESONATES AT HOME
“I hate war,” he said. “I don’t have my dad.” Anthony’s father was killed in Afghanistan five years ago. Anthony is now eight.
Read his story.
A CENTURIES-LONG BATTLE TO SOLVE THE AMBIGUITY OF WAR
by Natalie Schachar and Thomas J. Brennan
What do war crimes, Sun Tzu, General James N. Mattis, and Enhanced Interrogation have in common?
Read and find out.