I stay in contact with a few guys from my old units, but for the most part only guys that have gotten out as well. The guys that are still in haven't yet allowed themselves to look at the war from a clear perspective and are still very combative toward the anti-war movement. There have been a few that, like myself, began to reevaluate what they knew about the war once they got out and have come to similar conclusions as I. One Marine from the platoon I was in before I went to Iraq is now in my IVAW chapter. We hadn't seen each other for six years, so it was pretty nice seeing an old comrade in a new unfamiliar place.
Do you feel there is a big gulf between vets and those who haven't served because of your experiences overseas?
I certainly think there's a divide - the depth and breadth of which usually depends on an individuals political ideologies. We were in DC this past week taking meetings with Congress to tell them about our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan to try to enlighten them as to what they'd be funding if they voted on the emergency supplemental.
We were discussing the meetings with some other passengers on the Metro. A few gentlemen started yelling at us that we're un American and that the 3,000 people that were murdered on 9/11 deserve our unwavering support for these wars. When we told them we were all infantry Marines who'd been to war for this country it shook them, because they didn't know how to process the combination of an anti-war stance with an obviously pro-American person.
Still, they couldn't be reasoned with, and the divide between our experience of being there and their experience of the war entirely through the filtered perspective of right-wing news and radio was very obvious. This is something that I think is imperative that we overcome as a nation. I think it can be done simply with more discussion and by trying to all allow ourselves to be open-minded about opposing view points.
Discussion and debate - simple but essential building blocks of democracy. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Devon. Good luck to you!
Part One Vets Speak Out! Interview with Rick Reyes
Part Two Vets Speak Out! Interview with Christopher Gallagher
Iraq Veterans Against the War
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