Topic: Reflections

An Afghan National Army commando with the 6th Special Operations Kandak guards a rooftop during morning operations in Tagab District, Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, in February 2013. Photo by Pfc. James K. McCann, courtesy of U.S. Army.

“Why Are You Leaving Now?”—a Rookie Afghan Policeman, a Combat Veteran, and a Shared Loss of Naivety

“The look of fear on the faces of these local policemen as we left our position is something I will never forget,” writes an Army veteran of Afghanistan.

“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.”
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.

Infil: Where Two-Dimensional PowerPoints and Rock Talk Meet “Visceral Lethality”

“Reality sank in as we donned our combat gear in the ready room,” writes a former Army infantry officer. “In combat, do you ever really have control?”

“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.”

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.”
Soldiers, including the author (far right back row), from the 17th Signal Battalion pose in MOPP gear during the ground war.

Chemicals. Chemicals. And More Chemicals. A Veteran Reflects on Her Time in Desert Storm

For decades, the U.S. has poisoned service members with toxic chemicals. Lotions. Pills. Testing. Burn pits. And then there’s the enemy’s chemical weapons.

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.”

Becoming a Veteran After Choosing to Forget My Military Service at Fort Hood

As a woman, I never knew if a soldier was approaching me to correct a crooked beret or to ask for my number,” writes an Army veteran of Fort Hood.