Topic: Reflections

‘I Decided to Become the Safe Place that I so Desperately Needed’

A chief petty officer stays in the Navy after she’s sexually assaulted so she can help other women, inspire culture change

‘Time Heals Old Wounds. So Does a Bottle of Rum’

A father reconnects with his ex-wife during their son’s graduation from Army basic training. “I told her she was a good mother.”
An Iraqi man out on patrol with U.S. soldiers takes a break beneath a bridge. Photo by Nathan S. Webster.

A Journalist’s Favorite Image Mirrors a  Loss

A journalist learns of death that paralleled the moment he took his favorite picture.

“Pulling the Crazy Card”—Choosing to Show Empathy for a Suicidal Sailor

Thibaut Delloue rushed a suicidal sailor to shore after he asked for help on deployment only to see his shipmate ostracized and labeled a malinger.
Roy and Andrew van Wey in Husaybah, Iraq. Photo courtesy of the author.

“They Didn’t Make It?”—When Your Brother’s Homecoming Starts in a Burn Ward

After an IED exploded in Iraq, a badly burned Marine asks his brother if his teammates survived. “He knows I won’t lie to him. We are both warriors.”
Two voters in Kirkuk in Iraq’s first election of a democratic government since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 display their ink-stained fingers in 2005. Photo courtesy of the Defense Department.

“I Still Find Hope”—Purple Fingers, Steel Rain, and Getting “Messy” in a Combat Zone

Service members have voted by mail since World War II. “My nation trusted me,” writes Joshua Manning, who cast ballots while deployed to several countries.

“You Sound Like a Pervert”—Getting Lucky With Meatybob

The student grabbed the joystick bolted between her legs and took control of the training helicopter. “Some pilots are naturals,” the instructor said. “You aren’t.”

“I Hope She’s Scarred for Life” — Recalling My Time as a Blackwater Mercenary

Blackwater employees were “integral” to rebuilding Iraq, but with limited oversight, contractors had “no ethical obligation” to the country’s citizens.
Hunter Lu, back toward camera, shares a toast with his mother, father, and grandfather. Photo courtesy of the author.

An Army Interrogator, His Grandfather, and a Bond Across Two Wars 

“My parents, like most Chinese immigrants, valued education as the ultimate achievement,” writes veteran Hunter Lu. “The military was for dumb people.”