Civilians don’t miss war. But soldiers often do.

Journalist Sebastian Junger shares his experience embedded with American soldiers at Restrepo, an outpost in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley that saw heavy combat. Giving a look at the “altered state of mind” that comes with war, he shows how combat gives soldiers an intense experience of connection. In the end, could it actually be “the opposite of war” that soldiers miss? 

[H/T to Veteran’s PTSD Project on Facebook.]

Curator’s Choice, JUN 2012: Open Letter to CNN

loaded-for-bear:

soldierporn:

“Man, no one gives a shit about what we did yesterday.”

Open Letter to CNN from a CCAT Team in Afghanistan

February 20, 2012

Dear Mr. Anderson Cooper and CNN (or other reputable news agency),

Although I am sure that you receive thousands of communication attempts per day, I remain hopeful that this letter will cross your desk, or that of an appropriate staff member. My name is Adam Tibble, and I am currently deployed at Camp Bastion, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. I am a critical care air transport physician for the US Air Force. My team includes a critical care nurse, Captain Frank Brisendine, and a respiratory therapist, Staff Sergeant Robby Wilson. Together we transport our severely injured soldiers within Afghanistan and onto medical facilities in Germany. The work represents a difficult paradox for us. It is incredibly rewarding and heartbreaking at the same time. The injury patterns inflicted by enemy fire and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are awe-strikingly severe, and serve to stir emotions rarely experienced by medical personnel.

Just the other day, we flew two critically ill patients to another US hospital within Afghanistan. Following the mission, my team sat, exhausted, eating lunch at an American dining facility. CNN played passively on a television in the background, and a large group of US Marines was positioned on our right. Given the condition of their boots and their aggressive chewing, it was obvious that these guys had just returned from the field “outside the wire.” For 50 straight minutes, CNN’s coverage failed to deviate from the day-old Whitney Houston tragedy. I lifted my eyes up from my food as a handful of Marines were clearing their trays. One Marine leaned back to his buddy after gesturing to the TV and said, “Man, no one gives a shit about what we did yesterday.”

At that moment, I craved for the American public to be informed as much about a Marine’s sacrifice as the life of a music legend. In no way is this letter an indictment of CNN, its coverage, or Ms. Houston. In fact, we scour your website, as it is one of the most respected sources of journalism in the world. Rather, this is a challenge to devote a percentage more coverage to the true heroes in this conflict.

For example, our team had the honor of transporting a special forces medic who suffered incredible injury. As pragmatic medical minds, we didn’t necessarily believe in a patient “fighting” for their life. But, this medic changed all of that as he tolerated replacement of his blood volume too many times to count. He made it to Germany to see his family before succumbing to his wounds. He represents a real-life “Saving Private Ryan” story as his brother also lost his life in this nearly forgotten conflict.

Or what about the two US Army PFCs (Private First Class) that we flew on the day of Ms. Houston’s overdose? Each soldier lost two legs and one hand in IED attacks. In total, six limbs were lost in a matter of seconds on February 11, 2012. The American public will never know their names, but will likely know the results of Ms. Houston’s blood toxicity screen. However, we submit that these soldiers are more hero than any rockstar, athlete, or actor that dominates the headlines. We will never know the courage or bravery it takes to join that convoy or be the first to enter that cave, nor will we forget the sacrifice they made for our country. CNN is in the unique position to not let the American public forget, either.

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the 1% and the 99% of America. Less than 1% of the population belongs to this all-volunteer military that has been tested by two wars for over 10 years. The political and foreign policy implications of these conflicts make them hard to understand, and even more impossible to hold the general American public interest. And to be honest, it is sometimes difficult for us to understand as service members. However, these kids still join that convoy and enter that cave, only because of their incredible bravery, commitment, and because America asked them to.

Therefore, in turn, we plead with one of the most respected news agencies in the world to return the favor—to recognize the elite of our 1%, perhaps with a hero highlighted per week, or per day. There are thousands of stories out here. We would be happy to help you find these heroes and stories. Please ask. Then, maybe, CNN can tell that Marine in the dining hall that we all, in fact, do give a shit about what they did yesterday.

Sincerely,

Adam Tibble, Captain, USAF, MD

Critical Care Air Transport Physician

Cardiac Anesthesiologist

Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA

Frank Brisendine, Captain, USAF, RN

Critical Care Air Transport RN

Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA

Robert Wilson, Staff Sergeant, USAF, RRT

Critical Care Air Transport RT

Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA

(Facebook, via Soldier’s Angels.)

Fuck Whitney. I want my friends/family/brothers back.

[Some days I wonder what it takes to get civilians to pause and look around them…]

(via the-pink-mist-deactivated201406)

SOLDIER STORIES: Comatose.
third-round-charm:

You have no idea how comfortable a bed of rocks can feel when you’re exhausted beyond measure. Nevertheless… my boy Henry was in a coma while we were waiting for our AAR.
High-res

SOLDIER STORIES: Comatose.

third-round-charm:

You have no idea how comfortable a bed of rocks can feel when you’re exhausted beyond measure. Nevertheless… my boy Henry was in a coma while we were waiting for our AAR.

Gunny’s riding Momma Dog: A cautionary tale.

itsramez:

kitchenkind:

thethroneroom:

Momma Dog -

Funny, funny stuff.  If you’ve ever stood watch at a post like this, you know this is the norm :)

I had to scroll through photos of dog moms to find this.

Every single person on my dash has to watch this by law.

we all been there buddy…

SOLDIER STORIES: Fuck your glamorizing.
deployed:

We were  manning a COP the size of a Burger King and getting attacked everyday. I had recently lost ≈30lbs, one of the members of our three man team, and my mind.

SOLDIER STORIES: Fuck your glamorizing.

deployed:

We were  manning a COP the size of a Burger King and getting attacked everyday. I had recently lost ≈30lbs, one of the members of our three man team, and my mind.

(via scrunnel-deactivated20140809)

SOLDIER STORIES: But it was home.

operationzeus:

For anyone who has expended a chunk of their lives in a combat zone, especially those who spent a majority of the time at a COP, patrol base, or even a JSS, a part of you gets left behind within the walls.  When we first got to what would later become JSS Comanche, there was a river of sewage blocking the front door to the building to welcome us in to our new living space.  The only way to step over it was with the ramp from the armored vehicles that transported us while ours were en route from Kuwait. It was an empty shell of a building as life within was minimal and the small platoon that did exist was constantly flowing in and out. 

imagePatrol Base Texas, and the Iraqi Army Station

image
©Andrew W. Nunn 
 ”A dust storm rolls over Sadr City, Iraq, as seen from the northwest corner of Patrol Base Texas.”

imageJSS Sadr City

imageJSS Comanche

 We slept on the floor for the first few weeks but to tell the truth, I didn’t expect much when it came to sleeping arrangements.  Everything was cluttered; tables and chairs from everywhere was consolidated into rooms we needed, the rooms themselves were small and had build in shelving that needed to be knocked out and carried down. Hell, the windows still needed to be bricked up and towers and walls needed to be added to the motor pool area and around the building itself as we were extremely exposed.  

When you put so much time and energy into a project like that, it doesn’t just become yours, it becomes you. In the end, the place had every amenity that could have been asked for: Beds, showers, two gyms, a kitchen (with cooks) and even an Internet center. Everyone’s collective living spaces all packed into one.  It wasn’t much, but it was home.  The evidence of which lay in the solemn faces of everyone as we were leaving and getting ready to head back to Germany.  It was the most awkward feeling of loss that one can have, when you think about it.  I mean, we were going home home, back to our families and to a place that doesn’t stink like cow shit and ball sweat; yet, the time and energy left behind in that place was now falling behind us, forever. 

image©Andrew W. Nunn

 

Sometimes, on hot summer days, I wonder what it looks like now.  Occasionally I check Google Maps to see whether the civilians have taken it back and remodeled it back to the way it was before we came.  When I think about all the other people who spent time in theatre, I wonder what type of a gap was left when they left their temporary homes.  

 

Words - Nathan D. Moldenhauer
Photos - Andrew W. Nunn/Google Maps

Curator’s Choice: July 2011.

A chance in hell: Inside a combat hospital in Afghanistan.

***This video contains graphic images of war injuries. Viewer discretion advised.***

The combat hospital at Kandahar Airfield is among the most advanced treatment facilities to ever operate in a war zone. Roughly 70 percent of its patients come straight from the battlefield. In addition to U.S. and coalition service members, the hospital treats Afghans. For the staff, every day is spent working to keep death at bay. Video and story: The Virginian Pilot.

Pilot reporter Corinne Reilly and photographer Ross Taylor spent two weeks this spring in Afghanistan with the staff of the NATO hospital in Kandahar. This very well done story - first in a series - is a must-read.

A lot of kids go to war.

third-round-charm:

loaded-for-bear:

semperannoying:

I just realized that.

Yep. And you’ll be forced to make split second decisions that you will have to live with for the next 60+ years. 

Remember that the next time politicians decide to send us to war. 

On my first deployment, I was the youngest person in my platoon and the second youngest in my company. 

When we were mobilizing, one of the soldiers had to get a waiver because he was only seventeen. He had to have some special paper to show that he would be 18 by the time we were within a combat zone.

(via popping-smoke)

Curator’s Choice: November 2011.
soldierporn:

Sunset patrol.
Marine Corps HMMWV conducting a mounted combat patrol cruises through the desert of Iraq near Al Asad. The Marines are with the mounted combat patrol team Diamondback 3 under 1st Platoon, 1st Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
(Photo by Corporal James Hoke, 15 June 2006.)
High-res

Curator’s Choice: November 2011.

soldierporn:

Sunset patrol.

Marine Corps HMMWV conducting a mounted combat patrol cruises through the desert of Iraq near Al Asad. The Marines are with the mounted combat patrol team Diamondback 3 under 1st Platoon, 1st Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

(Photo by Corporal James Hoke, 15 June 2006.)