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Thoughts on Coming Home

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Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and their relatives and friends share their thoughts about returning to the United States.

Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and their relatives and friends share their thoughts about returning to the United States.

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  • 1. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and their relatives and friends share their thoughtsabout returning to the United States.
  • 2. What was it like coming home?“Like a cold shower, couldn’t breathe, made me wanna cry, and at last, refreshing.” - Tito Gonzalez, La Grange IL
  • 3. What was it like coming home? “Seeing these young men and womenreturning from multiple combat tours from these recent wars, brings up disturbing memories of what I saw in southern Iraq, and Somalia. It stays with you - always.” - Ron Brown, Indio CA
  • 4. What was it like coming home?“Coming back from 11 months in Iraqwas incredible… a greater appreciationfor what I have here, and what others don’t have elsewhere.” - Shaun Brown, Chesapeake VA
  • 5. What was it like coming home? “It is horrible for National Guard because you come back and you aretold to just get back to normal life. Ifyou have problems, call the V.A. How many people self refer?”- Lamont Tanksley, Bremerton WA
  • 6. What was it like coming home?“Im amazed that even though Im justa few years older, their generation has had to be so much more grown up than my own.” - Julie Hammers, Boston MA
  • 7. What was it like coming home?“…I was medivacked out of Fallujah Nov. 9, 2004, spent the next 8 months in the hospital … I spent the next 6 years struggling with my PTSD… Finally the Wounded Warrior regiment got a hold ofme last year and put me into the Shepherd Center for 5 months. There I became theMan and Marine I used to be before I left. Now I mentor and motivate other Vets…” - James Sperry , Collinsville IL
  • 8. What was it like coming home? “Terrible, could not adapt back intocivilian life, no emotions towards mywife and child. Been in therapy since 2006 and problems still persist.” - Nick, Burbank CA
  • 9. What was it like coming home?“Everyone expects you to be happy,but that didnt really happen. It wasgood to be home, but I wasnt happy and couldnt fake it, either.” - Shawnice Shankle, Alliance OH
  • 10. What was it like coming home? “A relief. Also a sense of displacement.And a sense that daily life here is lessintense and meaningful than there.” - Paul Albin, Austin TX
  • 11. What was it like coming home? “When I returned home after my lastdeployment it was very difficult for me tocommunicate with anyone. After about a year things seemed to get a little better, but as time went on and daily life issuesarose my life became very stressful. I have PTSD.” - Tim Gallegos , Denver CO
  • 12. What was it like coming home?“Each time was different. Each time I had a different outlook on my deployment and life in general. ” - Jon Cambric , Las Vegas NV
  • 13. What was it like coming home? “As a unit leader, I had strong sense of accomplishment seeing my family and mytroops with their families during the welcome ceremony on x-mas eve.” - Gil Florez, CA
  • 14. What was it like coming home?“I realized from my first day back that I was lost and wanted to go back. Icouldnt relate to things, or people, the same way, after Iraq…” - James Montgomery, Indianapolis IN
  • 15. What was it like coming home?“The actual event was great. Trying to get back to the civilized mindset was hard.” - Andrew Ralston, Minneapolis MN
  • 16. What was it like coming home?“Coming home was great... process to get home was painful.” - Michael Garner, Boise ID
  • 17. What was it like coming home? “… Overall feeling like Im getting a second chance at life and not to take anything for granted.I literally kissed the ground when our plane landed…” - Gilmar Valladares, Van Nuys CA
  • 18. What was it like coming home?“Relieving but scary at the same time.”- Elijah Walters, Hilton Head Island SC
  • 19. What was it like coming home?“10 times harder than going there.” - Christopher Ouhrabka, McKinney TX
  • 20. What was it like coming home? “If more people were able to understandthe importance of country, and appreciate the luxuries we take for granted, if only.” - Dexton Kotora, Alhambra CA
  • 21. What was it like coming home? “It was hard to adjust to my oldroutine. I got married about six months before I left for Afghanistan and my first few months back were like starting over.” - Kyle Moses, El Paso TX
  • 22. What was it like coming home?“Being deployed in Afghanistan, its like you are in this bubble, and all you have is your experience, your equipment, and yourteam. Coming home was different because everything I gave up to go down range, I had to work twice as hard to gain again.” - Courtney Morris, Atlanta GA
  • 23. What was it like coming home?“I am a Vietnam veteran. There was a quietness about coming home… I appreciate the evolution of thenational attitude that celebrates the service of the more recent veterans.” - David Swoyer, New Smyrna Beach FL
  • 24. What was it like coming home? “I’m a spouse and my husband came back from Iraq in July... He said it was weird how everyone was focused onsuch trivial stuff/entertainment ‘news’and not the important issues going on in the world.” - Michelle Nolan, Carlisle PA
  • 25. What was it like coming home? “I was deployed during a time whenwe couldnt call home, so my husband felt like a total stranger when I cameback. It was sad, it was nerve racking,but then it was kind of fun- like falling in love all over again.” - Carrie Donoho, Alhambra CA
  • 26. What was it like coming home?“My husband did three short tours in Afghanistan… I have always had a moral objection to war, and being married to a reservist has not beeneasy… But alas, once he was home itwas sweet, and everything else faded to the corners of my mind. ” - Kristen Rainone, Dallas TX
  • 27. What was it like coming home?“Joyful at first, but then the reality of living with PTSD set in after the first few weeks.” - Emily Armstrong, Indianapolis IN
  • 28. What was it like coming home? “Home felt alien to me for sixmonths and I had anxiety attacks.” - Sarah Balter, Atlanta GA
  • 29. What was it like coming home?“It’s like Christmas eve as a child. I had so much anxiety. It’s truly great to be home with family.” - Frederen Wimberly, Shreveport LA
  • 30. What was it like coming home? “It was maddening to hear inaneconversations on the grocery store or the upset that civilians have with everyday experiences, after one ofyour brothers was blown up just 14 days prior. ” - Matt Holzmann, Vista CA
  • 31. What was it like coming home?“I was welcomed home with amazing healthcare, education and re- assimilation programs.” - Shane Jones, San Pedro CA
  • 32. What was it like coming home? “Beer didnt taste any better, thenovelty of good food wore off quickly and women didnt throw themselves at us when we entered a room …Time, it seemed, had stopped at home and while I had changed, it hadnt.” - Carlos Ruiz, Chula Vista CA
  • 33. What was it like coming home? “I felt guilty seeing men and women forever changed by disabilities that they dont deserve. Here I was home, unscathed, andconsumed by the guilt of being lucky.” - William Havins, Oklahoma City OK
  • 34. What was it like coming home? “Unspeakable joy to be back withthe family. My return was groundedin knowing I was exiting the military to pursue a civilian career.” - Anthony Brice, Gulf Breeze FL
  • 35. What was it like coming home? “When I left I had 2 jobs and lived comfortably; coming home I had nojob, no prospect of one, and moved in with my mom. No one I lived near understood anything I had been through.” - Emily Winslow, Indianapolis IN
  • 36. What was it like coming home? “A year in Afghanistan and a yearhome dont weigh the same in your life. It is difficult to adjust, but I appreciate what I have more. ” - Cooper Cash, Front Royal VA