WAR STORIES:Voices of Soldiers Outside the Mainstream
compiled by Brandon Gustafson and Aly Wane

The American Friends Service Committee brought the NYS version of their
“Eyes Wide Open” display to Clinton Square on June 20.
Photo: www.afsc.org

What kinds of stories do we hear from veterans in the media? Of course, during war time, governments do what they can to prevent veterans and active duty soldiers from sharing certain kinds of stories, but shouldn't we expect more from the "free media?" The mainstream media has plenty of opportunity to listen to the voices of people who are serving in Iraq, but they pick and choose which stories to use.

Below are several quotes from Iraq War veterans that can easily be found online, but not in the mainstream press.

"When IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] would go off by the side of the road, the instructions were - or the practice was - to basically shoot up the landscape, anything that moved. And that kind of thing would happen a lot." So innocent people were killed? "It happened, yes." (He says he did not carry out any such killings himself.)

- Michael Blake, www.truthout.org


"All is not okay or right for those of us who return home alive and supposedly well. What looks like normalcy and readjustment is only an illusion to be revealed by time and torment. Some soldiers come home missing limbs and other parts of their bodies. Still others will live with permanent scars from horrific events that no one other than those who served will ever understand."

- Douglas Barber, Iraqi Veterans for Peace, www.ivaw.org, "Returning home alive"(Sadly, he committed suicide in January.)


"Instead of hating Iraqis for their strange ways and resentful behavior, I was trying to imagine the world in which they lived, even before an unwelcome US occupation forced them to live in a war zone."

- J.D. Englehart, (Former) SPC. 1st Infantry Division


"The smells of gunfire. The loud ping of bullets bouncing off of metal, the vibrations of grenades exploding nearby. The taste of your own fear climbing up into your throat. This is combat. And no matter how many times you experience it, you learn one more thing about yourself and you're always happy to be walking away."

- Fred Minnick, "In Iraq for 365"


"There are thousands of veterans being neglected over the treatment they require, whether it be physical, psychological, emotional or any combination of the above. Are we going to demand they receive just compensation for their sacrifice, or will we, as a nation that has benefited greatly from their sacrifice, continue to allow them to receive sub-standard care, and to be forgotten by the wayside? It is your choice America. What will it be?"

- Sgt. Kevin Benderman - Prisoner of Conscience,
Conscientious Objector to War

Went AWOL between March 2003
and March 2005.
No figures are available for the past 16 months.