Subscribe to InI’s Mailing List/Newsletter
News and opinions on situation in Iraq
Letters from Iraq - Part 2: When Soldiers Can’t Take Any More Violence and Death

Part two in an ongoing series of letters from soldiers in Iraq or on deployment orders to go to Iraq.
What happens when soldiers can no longer cope with the horrors of war? What happens when a soldier can no longer stand the sight of death and violence?
Published by Jay Shaft: Editor-In-Chief/Executive Investigative Editor-
Coalition For Free Thought In Media
Also See: Letters From Iraq Part 1: Suicide, PTSD, Mental Breakdowns and Unending Violence
Editor’s Note: All personal facts and details that would lead to the Army identifying these soldiers have been changed or removed. I have also removed certain details which might have compromised operational security, or made it too apparent as to which unit a soldier was with. The original context of the letters was kept intact as much as it was possible without threatening the safety and well being of the soldiers.
These letters have been vetted and verified by over 3000 individual vets and soldiers and over 20 VSOs (Veterans Service Organizations) and veteran’s rights groups, as well as numerous VA service provider groups and support agencies. I have been in contact with members of the DAV, VFW, VFP, VVA, VVAW, IWVO, IVAW, IAVA (formerly Operation Truth), VFCS, VAIW, Am Vets and many other groups.
In no way am I implying an official endorsement of any group or individual. I am merely stating that it has thoroughly made it around to the people who have been of great help and assistance with this work in progress.
I have been working on this as part of my major production project since July of last year. I went to two different VA Hospitals in my local area and it changed me. I never knew how much pain and agony was occurring every day behind the walls.
I was of the opinion that I knew how bad it was at the VA. I thought I knew what I would see. I could not have been more mistaken and uninformed. I saw men and women with their limbs missing, deaf, blind, paralyzed, burned, shot, and even more serious injuries.
Who could find anything more serious? Well, I hadn’t gone into the spinal trauma and brain injury wards. I have to say that was one of the most disturbing and shocking things I have witnessed. No words can even begin to describe the pain, suffering and agony that I saw there.
I challenge every American to make it their duty to visit for a few hours. Just do it one time if you to really want to see the price of this war. You can’t know what’s going on unless it has really affected you on a personal level.
This war needs to become a personal issue for every American, not just the soldiers, their families, and those whose lives have been touched by a soldier. Everyone must own a part of it before the average people will understand it.
There are soldiers in Iraq who are in no way capable of performing their daily duties or any other additional duty details. The rate of suicides and non-combat gunshot wounds and other “non-combat” accidents is rising alarmingly. This is the raw truth from soldiers in Iraq.
The Great and All Knowing Chinese Fortune Cookie of Wisdom says: People are not persuaded by what we say, but by what they understand.
I wish I could sum things up as neatly and effectively. Read the letters for yourselves and you’ll see Iraq through the words and experiences of soldiers struggling to survive and maintain their sanity in ever worsening conditions.
This should open your eyes if you still think everything in Iraq is going according to plan.
The soldiers in the middle of this mess are the ones I would consider to be an expert. Never mind what the White House or pentagon press conferences say, this is the reality as seen from the hell and carnage of Iraq.
If I Killed a Child am I a Murderer? I Need to Know!
From a Christian soldier in Iraq with blood on his hands
April — 2006
Someone, anyone, can you help me?
Please, please, find me a pastor or a preacher who can give me a real answer. I really need to know, because I think I’m going to hell for what I did yesterday. I know I was not really responsible, but it was me that did it: my hand, my finger, my eyes that aimed, and my 249 (Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), M249 Light Machine Gun ) that fired the bullets. Even if I didn’t mean to do it, I have to blame myself and admit it was my fault. I need to find out if I can ask for forgiveness and make it all right.
I went to the chaplain and he wouldn’t even talk to me about it. He just told me that it was during war, and we were in the right, because God was with us. He told me that during war things happen that can’t be helped. He told me that God would forgive everything we did, and I didn’t need to worry about it anymore.
That’s not an answer I can live with and when I got mad and screamed at him he wrote me up on a counseling statement for being disrespectful and insubordinate! So I can’t go back and talk to the Chaplains because they will never talk about it when you try to get a real answer from them. I am afraid they will give me another counseling form or try to screw with me.
I can’t afford to loose rank and pay, because my family is sharing a house with other family right now. We can’t even afford to rent our own place so we live with my sister and her three kids. So getting in any more trouble and having any pay taken away would hurt my family, and the Chaplin told me so already! He threw that in my face like it was supposed to just make me shut up and go away! I need to keep my family safe and he used it against me and then acted like he was doing me a favor for bringing it up!
I killed a kid yesterday and I have to know if that makes me a murderer or not. It was the first time I knew for real that someone innocent was dead. I mean, we were under fire, and I just looked up and saw my bullets hit this kid in the side of the face and blow his brains all over the wall.
I could see the tracers light his head up when they went through. I’ll never forget that sight, it was just too nasty and bizarre. I don’t know if my brain made it up, or if it really happened. God, that was the sickest thing I’ve ever seen. It was in such slow motion that I think I added stuff to it when I replayed it in my head. I saw it all happen like it was in a movie, so maybe I’m already nuts or in hell as part of my punishment.
His mother was right there and she just fell down in the middle of all this fire and started screaming and beating herself on the head. I mean we were still shooting like crazy and she was there in the middle of the alley on her knees not even feeling the bullets hitting her. She got hit from like four different directions and she was still just kneeling down and wailing for her dead son.
God, it all just slowed down even more, and then she fell on her side and it got real quiet. I could here a few guys going “Oh Sh*t! Oh F**k!” and nobody knew what else to say or do. Our Sarge started yelling at us to get back to the patrol and get our butts moving back to our FOB. We just all ran back to our vehicles and got the hell out of there as quick as we could.
We were afraid more insurgents would come out, and also we had just killed a woman and child. That really makes the locals mad like nothing else does. Kill a kid or a woman, and all hell breaks loose if they have time to figure out what just happened. Things would have got real ugly and they would have come after us if they had a chance.
We were hard running back to the FOB and I was still in shock. My friend just looked at me and told me it was not my fault. He was right next to me when it happened, so I know that he saw most of it when it went down. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it real hard and just gave me a “shut up and drive on” look. He wouldn’t let me say anything, he just told me to shut the “f” up and be a man. I know he knew what I was going to say, and he didn’t want to break the ice and let it all flood out.
That’s one thing that we don’t ever really do. We don’t talk about the dead kids we see or the people that get killed in the bombings or IEDS. We don’t really talk about our own guys dying, and we stay pretty locked tight about anyone else getting killed. It doesn’t make it easy when you now you killed someone, and I have to keep it shut up inside me, or I’ll get in trouble with my Captain and NCO staff.
I need to get an answer about this, because it’s killing me inside. I woke up this morning screaming and seeing that kids head blow apart.  I feel his death in my soul and I know his blood is on my hands.  Yeah, I was just doing my job and following orders, but that doesn’t make it any easier. All the soothing words and telling me it’s all right won’t wash this off my soul. I believe that there is no excuse for killing a child no matter what rationalization you use.
Killing an innocent child is just that, no other words will cover that up or make it any different. I have seen other guys go through this and try every excuse in the book. If you are a person with deep religious beliefs or a shred of humanity, then you can’t just let it go. I don’t know what I am going to do now, or how I will live with this.
I am a Christian who has been told that my faith doesn’t have anything to do with killing in a war. I have been told by a few Chaplains that I am doing the right thing and that my faith does not have anything to do with it. I think they are lying to me and it makes me feel like they are not really Christians. They tell me one thing, but the bible ells me another.
All I know is that this is not right, and we should not be told it is okay to kill innocent bystanders. My church and my bible say something completely different. You can’t just take the parts of the bible you like to see and throw the stuff you don’t need away like garbage. You either believe everything the bile says or you don’t believe any of it. God does not let you pick and choose which commandments to follow and which ones don’t count during war.
It just doesn’t work like that, and the people that think it does are going to hell. I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I follow the Bible as the word of God given to mankind for their eternal salvation. Now I am faced with the biggest sin I could have committed and philosophy will not make it any better. I go by God’ word and not the word of someone trying to make Christianity, Faith and war fit into one nice neat package.
The bible says “Though Shall Not Kill” and there is not a list of reasons or excuses to get out of it written in the Bible. If it is not there then you can’t say it is okay to kill. I can’t get anything else to make sense so I will stop trying to make it fit.
I need people to pray for me and to ask for my forgiveness. I am in pain and my heart is heavy. Please, please, tell me how to get this blood off my hands. I can’t live with myself if I know I can’t be forgiven. Is there anyone out there who can help me? I need some real guidance and prayer, not a rational or excuse to cover this up. Please, can anyone tell me what to do?
A Christian soldier in Iraq with blood on his hands
Someone’s brains are in my hair and their blood is caked on my uniform.
From a 101st Airborne soldier in Iraq
That’s it! Get me out of here! I can’t take it any more!
I can’t do this anymore! I just can’t see another dead person; I can’t take seeing one more person’s blood or guts! I won’t be able to take it if I see one more soldier get wounded or killed when I’m there. I can ignore it if it doesn’t happen near me, but how can I ignore it if some person blood or guts is splattered all over me.
Today is the worst day I have had since I came back to this sh*t hole country. I am trying get someone’s brains out of my hair. I have blood and guts all over my uniform. I can’t even take a shower or change into a clean set of BDUs because we are stuck in the middle of the desert with no extra water for a few more days. I’d love to be at one of the FOBs (forward operating base) with hot showers and laundry. Man that would be sweet.
Do you know what it’s like to see a bomb go off right in front of you and blow a bunch of people to pieces? Do you know what it’s like to feel someone’s guts and brains hit you in the face? Do you know what it’s like to wipe someone’s blood out of you eyes and then look down and see and see part of their face splattered all over your shirt? I threw up when I saw the eyeball stuck to my leg and already half dried up.
We didn’t have time to think it out right after it happened, but about an hour later I realized that I had at least three people’s blood and guts all over me. They blew up a bus right as we were going by in a convoy. We had been out on security patrol all day and night. We were on the last half klick (kilometer) of our run and thought we had made it back to base safe again.
There is a market place and little settlement right near the front gates of our FOB, and that was where they hit us. I was in the second Hummer back and manning the 50 (.50 Caliber heavy machine gun) when I saw this huge flash of light and got blown right out of the turret and into the road. I felt all this blood on my face and hands and started screaming that I was hit. I wiped my face and then I saw that it was not my blood.
I was hit, but I didn’t notice till everything was over with. I got a few frags in my arms and in my shoulders and hips. I went to sit down in the Hummer after we got it all secure and I felt the frags in my ass. I didn’t know until then. I just thought I was numb from getting blown out and hitting the ground. When they got my pants off it turned out to be just a few slivers of metal and some glass frags in my shoulder. I picked them out with a tweezers and slapped a field dressing on the cuts.
I got lucky because they killed one of our guys and wounded three. The other guys were really hit bad and I think that my friend is going to die. He had a big hole in his side and his leg was almost blown off. The other guys I saw both had head wound and serious wound to their legs. They looked like they will live, but I’m sure they will have brain damage.
One guy’s legs were hamburger below the knees so he’ll go home on wheels or sticks. Yes, I really feel lucky, but that was probably the last dead or wounded soldier I’ll be able to see. The next one will snap my mind like a twig.
I have seen at least 15 guys get 9Lined (flown out on a helicopter) and have personally picked up the body bags of six more. Our unit is an arty (artillery) battalion that was trained for ground infantry operations. We had no real combat experience so our casualties (at this FOB and with the other artillery units) have been among the highest of anyone in the 101st.
(Editor’s note: This soldier is at an FOB with several other units from the 101st. He was deployed with other artillery battalions which also have been trained to take over in an infantry capacity, according to another letter he wrote earlier this year.)
The ---- and the ---- are also taking a lot of KIAs and wounded. They knew most of us and we knew them. I know some of the other arty guys in the — Brigade, and they have been getting torn apart and losing a lot of guys. I know a lot of the guys from the --- and the rest of the 101st, because we all came over on this deployment.
So even though someone dies from another unit, and they aren’t any where near us, we hear it, and it hits us like it was one of ours. We’re all 101st, we’re all AIRBORNE, and so all this is hurting me like it was my best friend next to me.
I know twelve guys like they were family, and I knew most of the others that died. Some were fillers, but everyone else was with us for the whole training period. We did all this extra training and found out that it doesn’t count for sh.t when it comes down to real firefights and getting hit with IEDs. We are taking so many casualties in the 101st that one of our COs (commanding officers) went nuts and had to get sent back to the rear. We had a lot of guys who have had to go to the combat stress clinic because they were going crazy.
They will send you to the CSC if they can even get someone to take you, but most of the time they won’t let you off patrol or free up a vehicle to take you. I know that it is even worse sometimes if you do go, because then they give you all this crap about it being your fault and that it is not combat stress but your won psych issues coming out in combat. You see why most guys don’t tell anyone what I am admitting/ 
I am writing this while I am looking in the mirror at the cuts and blood on my face. I am still shaking and I keep seeing the flash and all the bodies flying through the air. I can’t get theses damn brains to come out of my hair and we don’t have much water to spare right now, so no shower for me till Tuesday.
I’ll have to go get a razor (if I can find one) and shave my hair just to get this stuff to go away. Do you know how sticky and slimy someone’s brains feel? Maybe not, but I don’t think you want to either. Knowing something like that takes a part of you and makes it dead. If you see enough stuff like this you will loose your soul and everything that makes you human.
I am only a soldier for four years, but I will be a human till I die. I don’t want to be dead inside or loose my mind like some of my friends.  I know two guys who killed themselves because they couldn’t live with stuff they had done or seen done. I don’t want to see any more dead kids, dead Iraqis, dead or rounded soldiers or any blood at all. I will not be able to hold on much longer if this keeps happening.
I might go in tomorrow and report for the CSC and take the sh.t that I know I’ll get for it. That’s almost as bad as not saying anything and waiting to go crazy or bug out and get evaded out. I know that I can’t drive on like this any more. I am going to put someone else’s life in jeopardy if I don’t get some kind of help. I don’t want to leave the wire ever again, but we have a patrol in about three hours.
I hope it is just one of the routine little piss ass patrols we usually go on. Most of the time we don’t even get shot at, but then something like this happens and you got blood and guts all over the place. You just can’t tell when all hell is going to come down on you. That’s probably making my panic attacks even worse, because you always got your butt hole clenched and eating seat cover on the patrols or convoys.
I have to pick plastic out of my butthole when we get done with a long run or have been outside the wire all day. You get so tense that when you lay down your still stiff as a board. I can’t get to sleep for hours, and then it’s time to go out again. I just pop loads of mini-thins and caffeine pills and just keep going. My wife sent me a whole box of energy pills and all kinds of stuff to keep me awake. I guess I’ll get my sleep when I’m dead. I won’t care then so I guess it will all be over.
I guess that’s all I have to say. I don’t know what’s going to happen or how I’ll get through this. I just know that the next body I see will probably drive me crazy, or else make me crazier than I am. I think I’ve already gone insane, because I have already seen enough to make me nuts, but I’m still here!
I think that I’ll probably be in the VA for a long time when I get home. That or I’ll do like my friend did. He took all the pills they gave him at the VA and went to sleep. No more war, no more pain, no more worry, just peace and quiet. And lots and lots of sleep, lots of sleep man, there it is.
Playing the Proud Soldier On The Outside While You Are Slowly Dying Inside
Letter from a combat medical soldier in Iraq
I am playing the part of the proud soldier on the outside and slowly dying on the inside. I just act like everything is all right and hope it happens that way. Does it really matter if I think this is crazy?
I think we are all a little crazy after the first few weeks. That is the biggest surprise of all. We are trained to handle things like this. I hear it all the time about our level of training and preparation.
Nothing can ever prepare you for this. Nothing! They just can’t teach it in a class or at a regular hospital or clinic posting.
Editor’s Note: I have talked to this soldier on the phone before he left for Iraq. The following is the majority of three different letters he sent me over the last several months. I also have mixed in a few excerpts from a journal that he sent with one of the letters. If there is a slight problem with the way it fits in with the letters, it could not be avoided.
When I first spoke to him he had just volunteered to go over to Iraq to serve in a life saving capacity closer to the front lines. I have been seeking out soldiers in the medical field to get a better perspective of the nature and details of the casualty situation.
I have also spoken to several other medics and personnel in both the field positions and working in the CASH (Combat Surgical Hospital) units. Many medical personnel who have served in Iraq have related very similar experiences and feelings.
I have taken out some very personal and private details, which is the reason why I have chosen to use excerpts instead of the full-length letters. In some parts it did affect the overall flow of the words, but it could not be helped.
Greetings from Iraq,
I don’t know if I can really trust you. Sgt. ------ said it should be okay. It’s one thing to talk to you about wanting to go back. This is different to me. It is hard to overcome my ingrained military conditioning and ideals.
You talked to me when I was putting on that big show of duty and obligation to save lives. I still believe in doing my duty with honor. I still believe in serving this country with pride.
I am going to believe the Sgt. I hope it is not a bad decision. He said you would make sure this got out of here without me getting in a jam. I trust him because he says you have never given him up.
Please get it back to the people who might want to read it. I am very confused and mayhap this will help me set my mind in a firm way. I am going to break down if something doesn’t step in and stop it. I think it will sooner than later with the way I am cracking up.
I don’t know if the people at home can really understand this. I have seen more reports in the news lately. They don’t understand it is not that easy to get into words.
I don’t know why I’m bothering to do this. It seems like an exercise in futility. No matter what I say I am still here and will be for a few more months.
I might change my mind about doing this. Hold this back for at least two weeks. If I have second thoughts I will let you know.
Oh crap not again. It just never stops. They are always bringing them in with major trauma. I need to go back to the OR and try to save these guys.
Incoming wounded and it sounds like some critical cases. One guy is on O2 and they are giving another chest compressions. Those guys usually don’t make it all the way to Landstahl. If they do they have a high rate of permanent brain damage.
Just to put it into perspective, it was over eight hours since I had to stop writing. Okay, now I have to try to get this done or I’ll never finish it.
I just saw a soldier with both arms blown off. The other one didn’t even make it off the bird alive. We did CPR on him for over 30 minutes. Too late for him and that really hurts. ----- ----- if I could have given him  ----- ------- and five minutes with his family before he died.
I might as well do this and put it behind me. You already know I am a medical ------- with ---------. We are in the thick of some very bad ----- ----- and ------. I have not been able to deal with all of it. I just kick it over to the side and carry on.
I could use a lot of profanity and colorful words to make my point. I will not though because it is not needed.
You know from talking to me that I can’t help some things slipping in out of bad habit. That is one way I have already changed. I am a Christian and a very faithful person. I try to hold my faith up in light of all the evil and suffering I see. It is probably the only thing I have left keeping me from putting a bullet in my brain
I do not go to any one specific church but I was raised as a devout ---------. My parents raised me in a very religious setting and I am glad they gave me that to build my life on.
 I am troubled by many of the things that I see every day. I am helpless to stop it. That seems to kill me inside a piece at a time.
Every day I lose a little more of the guy who I used to be. I have some very bad experiences that will end up making me stronger if I can survive to understand them.
War is hell because it never lets you stay the same. You change without knowing it ------ ------- and ------ life. ------- ------- ----- and you might not even see it till much later
I pray to God and scream at him at him when it gets bad. I try to make myself be at peace if only for those minutes I pray. It is only with the temporary solace I get that I find the strength to carry on.
A lot of brave and dedicated men and women are dying under my care. It gets down inside you and won’t go away. I can’t seem to scrub the blood off my hands. I can’t silence the screams of pain and fear in my head either.
Oh God what now? I think I just heard an incoming radio call. Oh no please not another chopper!
Yeah, I was right. Oh crap not again! It just never stops
Incoming wounded and it sounds like some critical cases. One guy is on O2 and they are giving another chest compressions. Those guys usually don’t make it all the way to Landstahl. If they do they have a high risk of permanent brain damage.
This goes on every few hours at our CSH. They are always bringing them in with major trauma. I need to go back to the OR and try to help save these guys.
Okay I’m going to try and get this done. Death won another round today. I hate fighting to save someone when you know that it’s already too late.
I just saw a soldier with both arms blown off. The other one didn’t even make it off the bird alive. We did CPR on him for over 30 minutes. Too late for him and that really hurts.
One of the worst things is when a soldier is crying out for his wife or mother and father. It tears you up and makes your efforts to comfort them almost insignificant.
When they are seriously hit but still conscious and aware is the worst. The ones that scream out for their kids have got to be the most taxing. I almost hope that if they are mortally wounded that they are not aware of what is happening. That sounds very cruel but dying is not easy for some of these soldiers.
Please do not think I am some kind of heartless person. I care too much for my own good and my ----- tells me to stop it. You are not supposed to let a death or injury hit you personally. How do you not feel it personally when a soldier dies under your care?
I have been the last face a soldier sees and the last hand they held. To see them die on the table is what we all fear the most. In the last ---- months I have seen so many young and inexperienced soldiers die that I can’t stop the faces from flashing in my head. I have this bad replay button that turns on at the worst times.
I just needed to get that off my chest. I can’t let it build up any longer. If I tell them I am having these problems they might take me out of here. I don’t want to leave in the middle of all this.
I need to stay and help finish this off. I have the ability to help save lives. If I go home I might not be here to save the one soldier who might have lived.
I do save lives or I do with the help of everyone else here at the CASH. I can’t put in too much because I don’t want trouble. I might be liable under UCMJ because of my -------- --------. You never know so I’ll follow some advice and not put all my laundry out there.
Some things need to stay here. Some things you never tell anybody even if it kills you to hold it in.
I am playing the part of the proud soldier on the outside and slowly dying on the inside. I just act like everything is all right and hope it happens that way. Does it really matter if I think this is crazy?
I think we are all a little crazy after the first few weeks. That is the biggest surprise of all. We are trained to handle things like this. I hear it all the time about our level of training and preparation.
Nothing can ever prepare you for this. Nothing! They just can’t teach it in a class or at a regular hospital or clinic posting.
I guess I am having a crisis of Faith of the worst kind. I keep telling everyone in my family that I am all right and happy to be saving lives over here. I cannot be happy because death is here with me every day.
I can’t get away from it like other soldiers can. I am here almost all the time. We get casualties around the clock and at some very strange times. I can never get in a solid nights sleep because I am having terrifying nightmares. Either that or I will finally get into a deep sleep and we’ll get a flood of casualties.
I see other people having the same problems so I know I’m not alone. We just don’t really talk about it. When we do it is not a comfortable thing to discuss. We usually make the morbid jokes and stuff it down inside.
I am throwing up blood and having agonizing stomach cramps. I smile and just tell my folks that I am proud to be here. I can’t let them know how bad I really am. You just don’t put that on your family. They have it bad enough just knowing I am over here.
I wear the proud hero’s uniform but I am sick inside. I just keep telling my wife that we have the best deal going. Hot showers and good food can’t make up for what we deal with. Who cares if I can get Burger King when I have the blood still drying on my uniform?
I thought I would have more to say. I just can’t seem to get anything else to sound right. That is the hard part. My whole structure of thinking and decompressing has been ruined. I only have a small bit of patience now.
I might write again. I really don’t know. I might decide to stop this next week. I might change my mind tonight after I send it.
Just keep this for a while. If it is more than two weeks then I guess I won’t change my mind.
No more. I just don’t have it in me.
A Medic in Iraq
Been almost a month. I haven’t heard if you did anything with my last letter. I think it is okay if you don’t put it out. If you do I think you need to add this to it.
I will be brief as possible. I went to my ------- and asked about the Combat Stress clinic. I think it helped for a few weeks.  I am afraid they will keep a close eye on me now. I have had second thoughts about going to them because it was not as easy as just saying something.
---------- --------- ------- with me ------- and my marriage. I think it is going to end up with my wife leaving before I come back home. I was going on mid tour leave but decided not to. I am fighting with my wife on the phone.
Our love and partnership is not going to last for much longer. I don’t know why I am telling you this. She wants to leave because of my stupidity. I have signed a longer contract without telling her.
Do I really need to tell you this? I think I do because of all the other soldiers that it happens to. We’re losing our families as this keeps going on without an end in sight.
I know I think it helps. This is almost like writing to myself. I just don’t know if there’s anyone else on the other end. It’s almost like writing in my journal. Are you there God? It’s me ------. You still there?
My faith is going to hell with the wind. I am questioning God right now as I write this. I can’t feel him over here no matter how much I pray. I get one my knees and can’t start. I just stay there for hours unless someone pulls me out of it.
I will have to cut this short. We just took some mortar rounds or something. It hit down by ------- but they will get it closer. Got to go.
Well that was last night. I haven’t been out of the CSH since then. I have blood in my hair on my face and hands and soaked into my boots. I was standing in a pool of blood for hours. We got --------- along with ------ and then it never let up.
I am going to crash now. I can’t stay up any longer.
Later I hope.
Been a while hasn’t it? I heard back from ------- and told him I am okay. I don’t know how you do it but I heard the word that you were concerned and worried.
You are amazing with that PTSD deal you have going. I read about Doug Barber and I cried for a few hours.
I didn’t know him personally but I did know who he was. He got put out while I was at LSA Anaconda for a short time in 2003. I never met him but I did read all the stuff he wrote. I can’t believe he killed himself. I take that back because it is happening right here.
Good to see that you made sure people knew why he couldn’t take it anymore. I am seeing at least half the soldiers that have CSD or a hard time keeping it all compartmentalized. There are a lot of second and third timers who are dealing with untreated PTSD. You know how bad it is from what we’ve talked about already.
There is still a big fear to admit it is real. I know that some soldiers will let it kill them rather than get help. That is what happens to a lot of them that make it home. They just give up after months of built up fear and hopeless feelings.
I don’t think I will be writing you after this. I am probably going back to -------- and doing the rest of my service time there. I will crack if I stay here in the middle of this blood bath. I feel like I’ve been swimming in blood and sh.t.
Some of the medical staff have committed suicide. I know that three guys who were in my first rotation have done it when they got home. There are a few that did it in right here in the last few months. Look into the circumstances behind the death of ------------ and --------. Look at the cause of death.
I sent you that diary that I copied. That will nail it if you can’t find anything else. I am not going to stay here and eat my gun. I can do my job in --------- and still save lives. I can’t do it all on my own anyway.
I have to get a step away from the fresh blood that we wade through. I will be a better soldier if I keep myself from going insane. PTSD or whatever it is just creeps up on you.
Either that or you get up one day and realize that it was riding on your back for a long time.
If I go to the CS clinic one more time I will probably be sent home. I’m not ready to get out of the Army. I just want out of here. If that’s a cowards way out then find me another way. I have talked to some other folks and they say it is okay to go back to ------.
Most are only on a sixer or less. I was going for a year because I thought I had too. If I get back from this a little it will get better. I will be able to ease myself off the mental stress. I hope that will be what happens.
I am praying again. God is coming back into my life. I did a few long sessions with the Chaplain. I am on a path back to stability after giving up on God.
I was close to going off the edge. I pulled back in time or I think I did in my own head. I won’t trust that too much. Even doctors can’t heal themselves.
I try to keep my faith in God and seek the wisdom of my friends and family. I am not close to many people but I am trying to break that barrier.
I am not even sure if I want to write again. I did not see anything come out yet. You either are using this for your research or tossing it out. Maybe you haven’t had the time to put the other letters out. -------- will tell me if they see it.
If you don’t need this at least let me know. I feel like this is going down a black hole. It helps to write it down but it does not give me a completed feeling. Please do me a favor and use this in an article.
I know you might not have the space to use it all. I just want to see some of it get around. We need the courage to admit all the things that we deal with. I see a lot of gung ho soldiers who are dying inside. They won’t tell you but it is in their eyes.
Did you ever see an 18 or 19-year-old kid with the dead eyes? I see some soldiers I would consider to be kids with that far away look. I think it keeps them from going insane but it is not healthy. I know because of what I was doing to escape the blood and guts.
I am going to share something as my closer. Yesterday a young soldier with a wife and a newborn baby died under my hands. I had my fingers buried in his crotch to try and stop the bleeding.
He was driving a supply truck when an IED blew through the floorboards. He had multiple wounds to his lower abdomen and the upper half of his thighs.
I had my hands buried in his groin area while he screamed and bucked around. I was trying to stop the blood flow from his femoral artery. We did all we could but he bled out right there.
I am going to have him stuck in my head with all the others. That is why I am pulling back and getting out of here. I know it is not forever with the way it is now.
I will end up back here or somewhere else in Iraq. I just feel that in my gut. I am addicted to this now. It will be a temporary exit and regrouping for me.
That is why my wife will end up leaving with the kids. I can’t rip myself away from this now. Isn’t that insane? I got branded by the hot iron of war. It changes you forever.
I am not the same guy who signed up again. In this little stretch I left my old self in the dirt. I have been changed and stained by my duty and obligation.
To all the soldiers that we saved I wish a speedy recovery. To all the ones we lost I will not forget you and the sacrifice you made. I have to believe it was not in vain.
 I will have them in my head and I will carry them in my heart long after everyone else forgets about them.
Here’s to living through it and coming back home. I have nothing else to say. I just don’t want it in my head anymore.
It’s not going to help if I let it keep me from moving on. There is life after death and there is hope after war. With God all things are possible. Even peace and healing for Iraq. Let the God of our own understanding be our light and healing.
Amen, let it be so.
Here are the links to some of my previous articles, interviews, and some letters released over the past year.
Live from Iraq-PFC Chris Gorman: This is an Ungodly War Based on Lies and Sin
Chris Gorman Interview Part 1-
Chris Gorman Interview Part 2.
The Army Is Religiously Persecuting and Harassing My Husband
Interview with Heather Gorman, Wife of Army Specialist Christopher Gorman
A Life Can Never Be The Same- Dylan Hardwick- US Army veteran of Iraq
This Country Has Failed Me In Every Way: Spc. William Wooldridge OIF Vet With PTSD
This is an audio interview and can also be downloaded and pod cast or forwarded as a wav file.
A Soldier For Truth Has Fallen: In Memory of Specialist Doug Barber
In Memory and Mourning of the Tragic Death of Douglas Barber 
Spc. Doug Barber: PTSD – A Soldier’s Personal War
This is the last article Doug ever wrote
‘Iraq Took Away Our Innocence!’ SPC. Doug Barber
Original full length interview that was Doug’s first public statements
To listen to an audio follow-up to the first Doug Barber interview go to
I’m Just Not The Same Person I Was Before Iraq
Interview with Spc. Michael Harmon, OIF Vet and 4th I.D. Combat Medic
The Truth From Our Soldiers About Iraq: Letters From Pre-Deployment
Victory In Iraq? Winning Hurts! 2400+ Dead, 19000+ Wounded  
Jay Shaft is a freelance investigative writer, and the Editor-In- Chief/Managing Investigative Editor/Co-Owner of the independent news group Coalition For Free Thought In Media. 

He has conducted many interviews with soldiers who have served in Iraq, in which service members exposed the issues of the military’s failure to provide proper equipment and training to US troops, and he has been on the forefront of investigating the price that soldiers are paying as a result.
He is currently involved in interviewing soldiers who have returned from war with PTSD or traumatic injuries. An ongoing expose and series of troops/vet interviews and articles highlighting the failure of the VA system to adequately take care of the soldiers and vets is in current publication at this time.
An ongoing series of letters from soldiers serving in Iraq is also being published. 
Jay has also published many letters and interviews from parents speaking out against the death or injury of their children serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Contact Jay at  or cftmeditor@gmail

Main Index >> Iraq Index