For me, leaving the Marine Corps was more disorienting than returning home.
We have a tendency to think of war as this quasi-mystical thing, and that interpretation flattens the experience - by using different perspectives, I wanted to open a place for readers to compare and contrast, to make judgments, to engage.
Marines and soldiers don't issue themselves orders; they don't send themselves overseas. United States citizens elect the leaders who send us overseas.
If you're going to write about war, the ugly side is inevitable. Suffering and death are obviously part of war.
The Cold War provided justification for a larger peacetime military, since we were never really at peace, or so the argument went.
I don't believe in any Greatest Generation. I believe in great events. They sweep ordinary people up, expose them to extremes of human behavior and unimaginable tests of integrity and courage, and then deposit them back on the home front.
Sometimes macho language is to mask things people are not ready to deal with.
I write in coffee shops, libraries, parks, museums. I get antsy and then get on my bike and go someplace else, letting the ideas spin around in my head as I dodge taxis.
I have two friends named Matt. They're both scouts in the cavalry. They both served in the same section of Iraq. They both worked with the same Iraqi translator. And yet, if you talk to them, their stories couldn't be more different, because one was there in 2006. One was there in 2008.
Resilience is, of course, necessary for a warrior. But a lack of empathy isn't.
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