Thursday, March 27, 2008

INTERVIEW WITH A GREAT IRAQ WAR VET

I have had the pleasure of meeting a great Marine who's name is Josh.  Josh is an Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veteran.  His story and views are important for all to read as you will find out.  Please provide any comments or feedback you wish to share with Josh.

1. Josh, can you tell me a little about your military background?

    I was a Marine reservist serving from 2003 until my contract expired last year (2007).  I served on tour in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq during 2005.  I am a school trained mortarman, but served as a machine gunner on a Humvee in a mobile assault platoon while in country.  In Iraq, I was injured by a roadside bomb (IED) and received a Purple Heart.  I also was part of several large-scale military operations.


2. How long have you been back Stateside now?

    I came back from Iraq at the end of 2005 and served the rest of my active reserve contract which ended last fall.

 
3. Compared to what you were hearing while in Iraq, (via the Mainstream News Media or any other means), do you feel that Americans got the whole story as to what was really happening on the front lines?

    No, Americans did not get the entire story.  It would take an extraordinary journalist to convey the actual feeling on the ground, the true feeling.  Many journalists visit Iraq with pre-conceived notions and they always find what they hope to find.  If they are looking for torture stories, they will find them.  If they are looking for war crimes, they will find them (true or not so true).  Being on the ground everyday in Iraq and experiencing every emotion we, as humans, can go though makes it terribly difficult to make unbiased reports in Iraq.  This is for several reasons, many times the reporters will go on a couple of patrols and form their entire opinion based on a snapshot.  For those who don't go out on patrol, all they are left to do is report on casualtiess.  Which is why we see body count updates regularly.

    Unfortunately, returning veterans are confronted by horrible ignorance from everyday people when they return from Iraq.  It is as if people have no idea.  Many don't realize that there are Marines standing watch right this moment.  There are also Marines preparing for a raid or their next patrol.  There are Marines traveling down roads right now wondering if the road is going to blow up beneath them.  All of this ignorance makes the adjustment back to regular life that much more difficult.  Even those who don't suffer from PTSD are likely to come home and experience what I like to call the "battlefield hangover".  It is a period similar to depression where someone feels disconnected from society because they have recently separated from the military.  It is a completely different way of life.


4. As an injured Marine and Purple Heart recipient, do you feel the Military is doing enough for our Veterans?  If not, where do you feel there needs to be the most improvement?

    The government is trying very hard to figure out the right formula for taking care of those coming back.  They deserve credit for trying.  Unfortunately, I am not sure the government will ever master healthcare, whether it be for veterans or anyone else.  Throwing money at the problem simply will not work.  Great people are required and I have met many great people from the VA (more are needed).  I am optimistic that care will get better, but there is one thing that I would recommend to the government.  I feel a VA social worker should be assigned to a group of veterans and regularly communicate with them.  The social worker would take the initiative, not the veteran.  This is because many veterans come home and are too proud to make the call to the VA.  There is something that keeps them from helping themselves.  I would like to see more outreach efforts increase in this regard and I think regular phone calls to the veteran would….1) let the veteran know there is someone out there concerned for them 2) the phone call would cross the divide that the veteran otherwise would not cross 3) the social worker could also schedule medical appointments by phone.  I know the Marine Corps does something like this as I recently received a phone call from Marine Corps Community Services on the order of the Commandant.  I think more of this is needed.

    I would also have a number this is always staffed with a counselor that a veteran can call and not have to jump through hoops to find someone to speak with.  When I say always, I mean 24-7-365.  Holidays and family celebrations can be a difficult time for the recently returned veteran and they may need an anonymous person to talk to at odd times.  This wouldn't necessarily be a suicide line as many just feel lonely and disconnected and they need to hear a good person on the other end.  I can't tell you how disheartening it is to make a phone call at one of those times on a weekend or late at night and you get the normal office hours repeated to you only after going through six other prompts.  A private organization might be better suited for this role, but I think it is needed. 

5. On the lighter side, what are some of the things you missed  most.  Any foods,TVv shows, hobbies, etc.?

    I missed everything. To put it broadly, I missed home and everything that entails.


6. Many people send care packages over to our deployed, are there things you would suggest for a supporter to send?

    Frankly, we were sent tremendous care packages with a variety of  items. Any type of food that tastes good and can last is always welcome. What I enjoyed the most were letters and videos. My family sent me a video from home where my Dad just took the camera around  the house and showed relatives around the dinner table. While  watching the video, for a brief moment I was home. I watched this  video over and over again because I could escape into it for short  periods of time.  Any video from home is great.

At this time, Josh would like to remain anonymous for personal reasons.  However, he is writing a book about his experiences.  I will update this article in the future when he is ready to reveal more.

Thank you, Josh, for your honesty and integrity.  Americans will be wiser and more informed because of you.  Thank you for sharing a part of yourself, and your time with me.  Semper Fi!!!!!

 

 

 

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Thursday, March 27, 2008
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INTERVIEW WITH A GREAT IRAQ WAR VET « HELLO IRAQ @ 3:41 pm

[...] Pamela Reece, at Patriotic Mom, has posted an interview with a Veteran of two tours in Iraq. In "INTERVIEW WITH A GREAT IRAQ WAR VET", former Marine, Josh, talks about his experiences during his two tours in Iraq in OIF, his [...]

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