The War Horse

Their Fight Was Over. Why Did I Make It Home and They Did Not?

The phrase “that day, over there” evokes memories of specific events in the lives of many veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Thoughts sweep in like a fog, clouding their view of the life they now live, pulling them back to that turning point. It could be the day they lost a brother-in-arms, the day they had to take a life, or the day they saw the lifeless body of a child and their heart hardened. That day, over there marks the distinct point in time that altered the trajectory and perspective of life.
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He Liked the Pro-America, Pro-Constitution Vibe. But He Liked the Rage, Too.

When Chris Buckley left the Army National Guard, he was angry. He was angry that the world didn’t seem to understand what he’d been through, angry at the training accident in Kentucky that had left him with a broken back and near constant pain. He was particularly angry at the men on the other side of the world who had killed his best friend, Daniel, when they served together in Afghanistan. It seemed like all he did was struggle—with his family life, with an opioid addiction that stemmed from his back problems, with what his purpose should be now that he was a civilian.

Pedal to the Metal in a White-Knuckled Race Against Time

Somewhere between my 14th and 15th birthdays, my dad taught me to drive a stick shift. He thought it was important that I knew how. My first car was a stick-shift Ford—fast. It earned me several tickets. A few years later, drafted into the Army, I found myself in...

They Are the Good Guys With Guns. After Another Mass Shooting, Veterans Want Change.

When Kyle Bibby reported in to the Naval Academy, he had never fired a gun. But he learned to shoot a pistol. Then a rifle. He learned safety measures and effective training. Eventually, he taught pistol to other midshipmen. When he graduated and was commissioned as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps, he says, “Pistols, rifles, machine guns, rockets—that was my life.”

The Countryside Is as Much a Place of Peace as War

Hypothermia mists uncurl from the hillsides. The white slopes of the volcano golden. We’re late. “C’mon, it’s time to go see Teacher Maria.”. “No, I’m not giving you the beep-beep today.”. “Beep-beeeeeeep!”. Cue eye roll. “Here.”. I hand my two-year-old the key fob. Beep, beep, beep...

I Have a Future Because of Those at Arlington, Where the Ground Is Sown With Tears

Arlington National Cemetery rests on 639 acres overlooking the Nation’s Capital from the south side of the Potomac River. For many of the more than three million visitors every year, it is one more tour stop between the White House and the Smithsonian museums. But for the many veterans and the families of the fallen, Arlington is sacred. Comrades reflect on what happened and families ruminate on what might have been with terrible finality. The ground is sown with tears.

“It’s All Bullshit”: Broken Military Justice System Jeopardizes Trust and Puts Service Members at Risk

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth story in a multipart series. Read part one, part two, and part three. During his three-decade Marine Corps career, Sgt. Maj. Jayme Winders adorned his offices with dozens of items that told the story of his service. There were photographs from his deployments around the world and certificates that marked his promotions and graduations at the top of his class from military schools.

“We Were So Hungry We Ate Our Fear”–Those Without Freedom Risk Their Lives For Change

Everything around us is “mandated solidarity,” as it should be in the military. As service members, we give up pieces of ourselves to become part of the whole. But sometimes, we own the actions and movements we feel passionately about as individuals. Sometimes, the same people whom we stand with for our mission in the U.S. Armed Forces are the same people who stand with us in personal missions.

Things Are Going to Get Hot Before Long. I Hope and Pray I Come Out of It All Right.

My dad was a World War II vet. Like many others, he was traumatized by combat, and by a nine-month imprisonment in a German POW camp. He came home to a country that expected him to forget the horror he saw, the starvation and brutality he experienced, and the losses he incurred. There was no such thing as post-traumatic stress disorder and no treatment. As a result, he struggled his entire life to be “normal.”

An Afghan Boy Saved Lives Helping American Soldiers. It Could Have Cost Him His.

Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end. There is a sort of visceral thrill when you sense victory at hand, or at least the possibility of it. I felt it when our young informant, Bashir, returned to the observation post with another tip. For the first time in several weeks, my sense of pessimism about our mission receded a bit. I felt hopeful.

“She Had Suffered Enough”–I Feel for All the Afghan People, but Especially the Women

The women. We saw them but rarely engaged. With few exceptions, their burqas enveloped them from head to toe. I was familiar with middle eastern abayas. I knew some cultures or religions required women to be covered in black fabric except for their eyes. But in Afghanistan, when I was there in 2004, their burqas included a blue mesh screen that obscured the women’s eyes.