Topic: Reflections

As Afghan War Nears its End, a Marine’s Guilt Intensifies

“My mind won’t let go,” writes a Marine veteran of Afghanistan. “The farther I get from those days, the heavier my guilt.”
Tom Smoot upgrades HMMWV GPS transceivers in Iraq’s Diyala Province in December 2006. Photo courtesy of the author.

Excuses and a Recurring Nightmare, Brought to an End by Medals and Heroism

Six months after a soldier returned from Iraq, his nightmares of being shot ended after he heard that others were wounded and killed in the same alley.

“I Drew the Line at Lying to Reporters”—a Military Spokesman Calls for Increased Accountability and Transparency

“These issues will continue to plague our military if both uniformed and civilian leadership don’t stand up” and demand “real accountability.”

Taking Unresponsive Leadership To Task as a Black Woman Army Officer

During her military career, she felt alone. As a Black woman. An officer. As a survivor of sexual assaults. Alone to battle mental illness.

Remembering the Service and Sacrifice of Muslim Veterans Among the Crescents and Stars of Arlington National Cemetery

During a trip to Arlington to honor Muslim veterans, an Air Force officer reflects on how her career of military service began as a Pakistani immigrant.
Soldiers with C Co. 1/12th Cavalry Regiment prepare to deploy near Bong Son, in Vietnam, in 1966. Photo courtesy of the author.

Remembering Journalist Sam Castan and His Deadly Ride with Crazy Horse

“Memories of Sam’s death haunted me for decades,” writes a former Army public affairs officer about the death of a journalist during the Vietnam War.

An Early Morning Helicopter Crash and a Lost Feeling of Invincibility

“You may have noticed that only one of the birds came back last night. Sometime in the early hours of the morning, there was a crash. Everybody is gone.”

“They let us talk. They listened.” Adapting to Survive a War I Never Understood

“Elders questioned our motives, what we wanted, when we would leave,” writes a veteran of Afghanistan. “They let us talk. They listened.”
An all-Afghan crew prepares to launch on a medevac mission in Helmand province in 2019. Photo courtesy of the author.

For an “Afghan Hand,” Explosions and Crashes Echo Loss and “a Romanticized Idea of Adventure”

“His story is so much the story of Afghanistan: youth destroyed violently while fighting for a better home,” writes reserve Naval Officer Jack McCain.