Episode 3: How Afghanistan and Iraq veterans are adjusting to civilian society — and shaping it
Stars and Stripes May 30, 2023
Modern-day veterans are getting out of the military often with not just one, but multiple combat tours under their belts in Afghanistan, Iraq or both. Many of these veterans are still coming to terms with how these wars ended, and with how to reintegrate into civilian society.
Daniel R. Green, a Navy Reservist, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Strategy and Force Development and now a defense fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, tackles this subject in his latest book, "Front Toward Enemy: War, Veterans, and the Homefront." In this episode of Military Matters, co-host Jack Murphy and Green discuss Iraq and Afghanistan war memoirs, how culture has been and will continue to be shaped by veterans, and why these wars feel like they never ended.
“You just have an interesting generation of people who just — parts of them have only known this conflict for 20 years,” Green said. “That's all they've really ever done. If they weren't over there, they were coming back, getting ready to go again, writing about it, podcasting about it, you know — and it never ended. There was no victory parade as well. We have all the instincts of, our country has been attacked, because of 9/11. So we feel that acutely, but we'll never have full closure.”
Green also discussed how adaptations service members developed to survive in Iraq and Afghanistan, in particular counterinsurgency strategies, can help and hinder veterans in the civilian world.
“You have a deep sympathy and empathetic understanding of other people … and then you're trying to use that knowledge to change their behavior, to manipulate them to some degree or to move them along the path to some decision you want them to take,” Green said. “So there's all these other weird behaviors. And then you come home and you go through this process of sort of unlearning them. You know, some of them will be with you that are really positive and some that are not so positive.”
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A transcript of the episode can be found here.
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