I am a young American that has recently been considering joining up. As I started doing research about different branches and talking with currently deployed and veteran men and women, I began hearing some extraordinary and inspiring experiences. I realized that for every 'American Sniper' and 'Fury' that occasionally surfaces through Hollywood etc, there are many times more stories and moments out there, often more raw and real than what other Americans think. Here's one experience, for example, that an Iraq vet wrote in with (am keeping anonymous here):
"I am a war veteran and I am from the United States of America. I participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom and in Operation Enduring Freedom. One of the most vivid memories of my deployment to Iraq was when I was a .50 cal gunner. My machine gun was oriented down an alley way and people were running across the alley from building to building. I did not know if they were friendly forces or foreign forces. They were in my crosshairs and I could have shot them, but I decided not to shoot them because I could not positively identify them as the enemy. I'm glad I did not shoot them because I later found out they were friendly forces."
A lot of these stories are in danger of being forgotten, and I'm thinking about the importance of collecting them and making a safe space for folks to share some of the dark depths and mighty miracles that soldiers go through. There are a lot of other people who are in the dark, and members of the public who could benefit from learning more about some of these moments. I think privacy (when desired) and authenticity are important to protect, while educating the broader public is needed. A lot of servicemen and women have responded really positively about this. Curious to hear more thoughts, and also if interested in getting on an email list to receive some of these stories.