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.
Our Spring 2017 Writing Seminar at Pulitzer Hall
Thanks to a generous donation from the D.J. Edelman Family Foundation, our team brought 15 veterans and family members to Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism for a five-day immersive writing seminar alongside Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, leading veteran's advocates, and mentors to help them share their stories about war and trauma.
Additional support was provided by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Barnes and Noble, Pegasus Books, the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, The Half King, Hudson Whitman, and our guest speakers.
"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.
INSIDE THE PAINSTAKING RECOVERY PROCESS OF A MEDAL OF HONOR MARINE
Six years ago this month Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter suffered grievous wounds after shielding another Marine from a grenade blast in Afghanistan. Somehow, he survived. This is the story of his remarkable recovery.
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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.
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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.
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.
What Our Readers Are Saying
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.
Read Derrick and Ian's story.
Alyssa’s teacher took her to the counselor’s office where Veronica was waiting. “My mom looked at me and told me Papi wasn’t coming home,” Alyssa said. “I didn’t know what she meant. She just looked at me and said, ‘He died.’”
Things were the same for Anthony, who was three. He walked into pre-school that morning expecting good news. Instead, he was told he’d never see his father again.
HOW KYLE CARPENTER CAME BACK FROM DEATH
His fellow Marines, doctors and his family questioned whether he would survive, or if he did, what his quality of life would be. This is the story of his recovery.
Our detailed standards for trauma reporting are inspired by The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.
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