In 2006 I volunteered for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation's largest group

      dedicated to the veterans of the War on Terror. 

      I spearheaded a project called "Through the Eyes of ...," a series of military profiles designed to give

      an open mic to returning soldiers.

      Those soldiers spoke frankly about life on the ground.  They offered uncensored accounts of the war's

      successes and failures, as seen from the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan.





A Shift in Powers

The road from Kuwait to Baghdad was 11 hours.  Brian Powers drove nine of them.

“You're shit nervous.  A war just happened, and you don't know what's going on. I'd never been in a war zone before.  You're looking for anything threatening.  And you don't know what you're looking for. There's a mass of people and trash everywhere.”

This was spring 2003, a month after coalition troops arrived, before the insurgency had taken shape


Redneck Philosopher

Talk with James Downen for a good 15 minutes, and it's unclear whether the man should be writing Kenny Rogers' lyrics or George Bush's foreign policy.

Downen apologizes for delaying his interview, but lately, he says, he's been as busy as "a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest."  Anyway, he says, describing his years of service as a military photographer is easy: "I'm just a doofus with a camera" living in a "rinky-dink redneck town."

But as Downen's comments slide from the personal to the political, it becomes increasingly difficult to dismiss him so easily


When the War Hits Home

So often the coverage of Iraq is just that: of Iraq - framed by the sectarian violence in Sadr City, miked up before a Baghdad market where hours earlier a car bomb exploded.

Stephanie James' story is different.  Hers is the story of how the car bombs and mortar attacks have affected Robinson, Ill., a farming community of 7,000 residents, 250 miles south of Chicago and a world away from the guard towers and barbed wire of Log Base Seitz, west of Baghdad


The War Within

Ask Specialist Abbie Pickett what life in Iraq was really like, and with a gentle voice that mixes humor and horror, she tells some stories.

A member of the Wisconsin National Guard, Pickett spent 15 months driving a 2,300-gallon refueling truck all over Iraq for the Army's Fourth Infantry Division.

"It was like a bomb on wheels," she says. Driving the truck, she repeatedly took small-arms fire and says she was acutely aware what an accurate attack would mean







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