Because so few Americans have served in the military since 9/11 — or even know anyone who has — many look to the media for information about veterans and military service. Popular news outlets, however, often traffic in tragedy and sometimes paint those who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan with one of three broad brushes: as superhuman; as broken, disabled, and traumatized; or as dangerous, ticking time bombs.
See Me for Who I Am aims to undermine these stereotypes. It brings together twenty young student veterans working to bridge the cultural gap that divides them from the American people they fought to protect. With thoughtfulness, humor, and honesty, they relive and relate their worst memories, illustrate shared experiences, explain to us the fulfillment of combat, and show us what going to war really entails. For veterans, these voices will ring familiar. For civilians, the stories open a view into a world few ever see and, in the process, affirm our common humanity.
“This is as authentic as it gets,” writes David J. Danelo, OIF veteran and author of The Return: A Field Manual for Life after Combat. “These essays reflect the eloquent, powerful voice of the 21st-century American combat veterans’ collective efforts to navigate their way back into a society that offers gratitude and respect, but lacks empathy and understanding.”