The “troubled vet” stereotype, while rooted in truth, shadowed that silent majority of returning troops as they again donned civilian clothes. The stubborn perception colored how others treated them and complicated their recovery from psychic wounds that, if not so severe as to push them to homelessness or suicide, still needed to mend.
Stanley Gibson’s name went unspoken during the two-day program this past summer at the headquarters of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. But the fallout from his shooting has influenced reforms to the agency’s deadly force policies and its tactics for handling veterans in crisis.
Patricia and Shawn Sims stared at the body of their dead son. His blue eyes were closed. His unlined face revealed none of the torment of his last days. He looked like a boy dreaming. Kansas City police had shot and killed Issac Sims, 26, in the garage of his parents’ house a day earlier.
Patricia and Shawn Sims believed war had affected their son’s mental health. Issac Sims sustained a traumatic brain injury from an explosion during his second tour in Iraq with the Army in 2010. The blast had fractured his genial nature.
Army Sgt. Issac Sims was killed Memorial Day weekend, a year after his discharge from the Army and thousands of miles from Iraq. He endured two tours there only to die at age 26 in his parents’ home on Kansas City’s decaying east side. The fatal shots were fired not by insurgents but by police. The distinction may have eluded his damaged mind.
As the U.S. military withdraws from Afghanistan and concerns persist of the country reverting to civil war, parents of fallen soldiers struggle with a barbed question: For what larger reason did their child die?
The past month has disfigured Bergdahl's hometown's inviting image. Hailey residents have seen their city branded as the birthplace of a soldier widely vilified as a deserter, a traitor and various unprintable words, and their support of him denounced as treasonous. They wonder if, in the coming weeks, there will be more ugliness.
The senior medic found himself turning nauseous at the scent of blood. The young private slid into depression after his girlfriend in America dumped him. The first sergeant felt suffocated by memories of three close friends killed in Iraq.
The first body was the most difficult. Pfc. Durell Siverand found a family portrait in the dead soldier’s wallet that showed him posing with his wife and two daughters. A mortar blast had killed him on the day he turned 21.
Across the country, behavioral health specialists attempt to bring together a squad or platoon within 72 hours after the unit experiences a calamity: a soldier’s death or serious injury, a mission that yields civilian casualties. The sessions represent part of the military’s wider effort to alleviate the mental burden of troops at war.
First Lt. Joshua Fosher was 15 feet in front of him; Capt. Dusty Turner was about as far behind. The distance saved the two Americans from his fate. Yet they were casualties in a less obvious sense. The blast inflicted hidden wounds, physical and psychological, that lingered long after Kiepura returned to Poland in a metal box.
In the era of asymmetrical warfare, when the demarcation between the front line and the rear echelon has dissolved like a mirage, the 'resiliency center' serves as an oasis, if only for the running time of “Bridesmaids.”
The soldier lay on a stretcher, his lower legs a mash of pulverized bone and blackened flesh. Doctors and technicians ringed his broken body. Chaplain David Trogdon watched in silence for an opening. Then he came forward and squeezed the soldier’s hand in his own.
The work of chaplains in a combat zone inspires metaphors that liken their role to a release valve or catch basin. They listen more than they preach. Those who cultivate a ministry of presence serve as roving counselors, adept at creating rapport, undaunted by four-letter banter and mindful that pressing religion on troops can halt conversation faster than a mortar siren.
The prevalence of PTSD has provoked questions within the Army about the wisdom of senior officers badgering lower-ranking troops to repress their combat trauma while deployed, and the unofficial code of silence, long regarded as a barometer of soldier strength, has drawn scrutiny of late as a doctrine that merely defers war’s psychological toll.
Lt. Col. Daniel Mouton brought an open mind to working with Afghan Col. Mohammad Wasil. Less than two months later, after suspicions arose among U.S. officers that Wasil had ties to the Taliban, Mouton was investigating him. In the ensuing weeks, Mouton uncovered a raft of alleged offenses that suggested a man with a dual identity: the battalion commander as crime boss.
The men sat on the ground inside a mud-brick barn listening to Capt. Philip Schneider, the air imbued with the scent of manure and a sense of fatalism. More than a decade into the longest war in U.S. history, Afghans remain less convinced of their military’s intentions than the Taliban’s.
Whether it was an apology or not, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s message to Pakistan opened the way for the first military supply trucks in seven months to rumble over the Afghan border Thursday and assuaged fears of a costly, potentially messy exit. For now.
Two worlds, a world apart. In Miami, confetti fell and the hometown crowd roared as LeBron James and his Heat teammates celebrated winning the NBA title Thursday night. Almost 8,000 miles away in Kabul, where it was Friday morning, smoke rose from a burning building and gunshots snapped the air as a hostage crisis played out at a lakeside resort.
The gunfire had subsided at a popular lakeside resort on this city’s outskirts shortly before noon on Friday, replaced by the sobbing of those whose loved ones were among the 18 people killed in a grisly militant attack.
Muhammad Tahir jutted his bearded chin toward a U.S. military vehicle idling on the dirt road that cuts through this tiny village’s open-air market. The gunner’s hatch rose above the rooftops, and most of the shops looked small enough to fit inside the 15-ton armored truck.
Tension had existed on bases shared by U.S. and Afghan troops after a recent series of shootings in which Afghan personnel killed six American servicemembers after reports last month that U.S. soldiers burned copies of the Quran. The unease is almost certain to deepen after the reported killing Sunday of 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, by a U.S. Army staff sergeant.
America will not accelerate the removal of its troops from Afghanistan despite a series of attacks on U.S. soldiers by Afghan security personnel angered over the burning of Qurans at a coalition airfield, according to the top U.S. diplomat here.
Sayed Hashim and Abdul Raziq belong to the millions of Afghans whose measured, muted response to the burning of Qurans made them invisible. When protests erupted, the coverage followed. The two friends and business partners watched, more dismayed in their countrymen than by the media.
A suicide car bombing killed nine people and injured a dozen outside a military airfield in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, the latest spasm of violence resulting from the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base last week.
Across nine square miles of arid flatland in Herat province lies evidence of the shattered past and robust present of Shindand Air Base. Less obvious is the uncertain future of the second-largest coalition forces airfield in Afghanistan, home to the nation’s fledgling air force academy.
Despite an apology from President Barack Obama and a plea for calm from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, violent protests racked Afghanistan again Friday, the fourth day of upheaval over coalition soldiers burning Qurans at a U.S. base.
President Barack Obama apologized to Afghans on Thursday over coalition troops burning copies of the Quran, vowing to hold the culprits responsible as protests roiled Afghanistan for a third straight day.
A wave of anti-American rage swept across Afghanistan on Wednesday, leaving at least seven people dead and more than 30 injured during a second day of protests over coalition troops at Bagram Air Base burning copies of the Quran.
NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan apologized and promised an investigation following a report that coalition troops at Bagram Airfield “improperly disposed” of copies of the Quran, an incident that ignited a protest Tuesday outside the base north of Kabul.
An Army reservist in Afghanistan with the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion who told Stars and Stripes that he deployed during the Vietnam War has come under military investigation for apparently lying about his prior combat service.
The Taliban leader hid his face beneath a black ski mask as he rode in the back seat of an Afghan army pickup truck. He knew to avoid needless risk. If the wrong person saw him, his life might end before he could convert from insurgent to peacemaker.
There is no need to imagine the aftermath of perhaps the worst attack on the Afghanistan Border Patrol in its young history. The Taliban captured the grim scene on video. The siege inflamed the simmering distrust between the border patrol and the Afghanistan National Army in a turbulent region.
The U.S. and Afghan soldiers who occupy a roadside outpost near this village in northern Kunar province work in buildings a half-block apart. They meet daily to discuss reports of insurgent activity and almost as often to drink tea or eat rice and naan.
Even in the dust and grime of war in Afghanistan, the yuletide spirit takes hold. Most holidays here come and go without fanfare; missed birthdays, anniversaries, and other personal milestones are more difficult. But for many soldiers, being away from their families at Christmastime is a little tougher still.
If Pakistan opts to keep the border crossings into Afghanistan closed to NATO resupply convoys for an extended period following an air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, the U.S. military and its allies may have to rely more heavily on the Northern Distribution Network, a key gateway for military equipment.
Among those in their 20s and 30s, a yearning exists for Herat to live up to its moniker as “the Dubai of Afghanistan.” As yet, amid a national economy burdened by war, the label remains more aspirational than accurate.
Rangina Hamidi's frustration with the status quo and Afghan President Hamid Karzai transcends words. The 34-year-old Hamidi, who left Virginia in 2003 to promote women’s rights in her homeland, has decided to return to the United States, disillusioned by what she views as Afghanistan’s descent into entropy.
If Hollywood had plans to film “The Fast and the Furious: Kabul Surge,” the midnight-blue Toyota Corolla looked primped to audition for a role: lustrous steel rims, wafer-thin racing stripes, shark-fin spoiler and mud-black windows, the better to thwart sunshine and stares.
Thousands of mourners gathered at a hilltop cemetery Friday for the burial of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, their grief over his murder earlier this week shot through with anger at those behind his assassination and doubts that peace will prevail in the war-scarred country.
By the time an almost 20-hour insurgent assault on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters here ended Wednesday morning with 27 dead, criticism of and concerns about Afghanistan’s security forces were already percolating in the nation’s capital.
There are war zones and there are time zones. In between, there is the war time zone, an earth-bound purgatory where hours disappear in a haze of waiting and tedium that feels like something out of an Albert Camus novel.
Word of the deaths of 30 U.S. servicemen killed when their helicopter was shot down Saturday west of Kabul was slow to reach some U.S. bases in Afghanistan. At Forward Operating Base Torkham, where troops are primarily involved in patrolling the Afghanistan-Pakistan border along the Khyber Pass, a half-dozen soldiers approached by a Stars and Stripes reporter Sunday afternoon had yet to hear of the attack.
In one scene of Sebastian Junger’s best-selling book “War,” then-Pvt. Misha Pemble-Belkin runs through sheets of gunfire to aid Spc. Carl Vandenberge, who is bleeding out after a bullet has severed the brachial artery in his left arm. Now Pemble-Belkin, 25 is back in Afghanistan as a sergeant and team leader with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division.
In the command center, the men were laughing. A donkey-borne IED. Who would do that? Who would load a donkey with explosives and send it tottering down the road, an unwilling, unwitting suicide bomber?
The President and military leaders on Friday certified that the military is ready for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, setting the stage for openly gay troops to begin serving in the military in late September.
Observation Point Mustang might boast the best open-air gym this side of Muscle Beach in Venice, Calif.—with a few differences. Subtract the Pacific Ocean, sidewalk gawkers and live music. Add the Kunar River, Islamic militants and mortar fire. Then look down.
The kidnappers made a demand of their captive that was at once straightforward and impossible to fulfill: return control of the district of Ghaziabad in northeastern Kunar province to neighboring Nuristan province.
Sen. John McCain used an Independence Day visit here to criticize President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan starting this summer, calling it “an unnecessary risk” to American forces that will continue the war effort.
A platoon of U.S. soldiers walked along a dirt path mottled with sheep droppings, moving past fruit orchards and muddy streams under a warm morning sun. Gunfire, mortar explosions and the other noises of war were nowhere to be heard.
A television in the corner showed Jack Bauer doing his sweaty best to save the world on “24.” A dozen people, including U.S. military officers and civilian employees, occupied overstuffed chairs and love seats along the walls.
I sat on the ground in a copse of trees near this village in southern Logar province, listening to Sgt. Sean Casey lay out his plans for postmilitary life. The Army combat photographer was covering a joint patrol mission conducted by soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division and the Afghanistan National Army.
The day’s work began near dawn for the 75 U.S. and Afghan soldiers conducting a patrol in this mountain village about 70 miles south of Kabul. Plumes of dust rose from the ground as they trudged through terraced fields of wheat and corn toward a cluster of mud-walled dwellings. Residents stepped from their homes to watch.
It was euphoria and relief mixed with a sense of caution about what lies ahead as soldiers here absorbed the news that U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on Sunday, ending a nearly decade-long manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist.
Looming uncertainty over a possible government shutdown ignited a run on base commissaries Friday as servicemembers and their families stocked up on food and household goods as a precaution against the stores closing.
Sunday marks the first of the four Advent Sundays preceding Christmas. The coming of the Advent season also means that many of Germany’s Christmas markets will soon be up and running, bringing much needed cheer when daylight hours are short and the skies too often cloudy and gray.
Utrecht, Netherlands makes a good bet for lovers of indie music Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 20-23, as the festival known as Le Guess Who? hosts both established bands and up-and-coming acts in 15 venues.