Phil Klay is a veteran of the U.S. Marines who served as a public information officer in Iraq’s Anbar Province during the surge. After being discharged he got his MFA from Hunter College and penned a collection of stories based on his experiences as a soldier. It’s called Redeployment and in it he explores the human stories — and human impact — of the war in Iraq. The New York Times calls it “the best thing written so far on what the war did to people’s souls.”
It’s an absolute page-turner: full of humor and violence, sex and sadness. It shows the brutal realities that many soldiers faced in Iraq, and what they dealt with upon their return. Here’s an excerpt:
I looked down at my hands and then back up at Zara. I didn’t know how to tell her what coming home meant. The weird thing about being a veteran, at least for me, is that you do feel better than most people. You risked your life for something bigger than yourself. How many people can say that? You chose to serve. Maybe you didn’t understand American foreign policy or why we were at war. Maybe you never will. But it doesn’t matter. You held your hand up and said “I’m willing to die for these worthless civilians.”
At the same time, though, you feel somehow less. What happened, what I was a part of, maybe it was the right thing. We were fighting very bad people. But it was an ugly thing.
For this show we’ve invited veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to join us in conversation with Phil Klay. Among other things, we’ll talk about why they chose to join the military, what their most challenging experiences were while at war, and how they’ve adjusted to life back in the United States.
Are you a veteran from the war in Iraq or Afghanistan? What would you like people to know about your experience? Do you work with, live with, or love a veteran from one of these wars? What has your experience been like?