Best Of 2016: The Stories From Task & Purpose You'll Want To Read Again

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2016 was a big year for our team and our readers. We started a podcast about Bowe Bergdahl, brought on some incredible writing talent, and covered stories that no one else was talking about from the military and veterans’ perspective. From Standing Rock to the election, here’s our list of Task & Purpose’s best stories from 2016.


PTSD Is The War Families Fight At Home

By Sarah Sicard

We profiled a family who’s experiencing firsthand the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder and its lasting effects on life at home.

COMIC: The Navy SEAL Who Was Shot 27 Times And Kept Fighting 

By Matt Battaglia

In April 2007, Chief Petty Officer Douglas “Mike” Day was shot 27 times in a raid on high-level al Qaeda militants in Iraq. This original comic presented Day’s incredible story of survival.

7 Guys You Meet In Every Infantry Platoon 

By Adam Linehan and Matt Battaglia

From the left-leaning idealist who dreams of writing the next great war novel to the patriotic computer nerd, we created an illustrated guide to the modern infantry platoon.

Sebastian Junger: Over-Valorizing Vets Does More Harm Than Good 

By Adam Linehan

Sebastian Junger spoke to us about the allure of combat, the civilian-military divide, and why over valorizing veterans only does more harm than good.

This Is Your Brain On War

By Adam Linehan and Matt Battaglia

We teamed up with former West Point psychology professor and author Lt. Col. Dave Grossman to produce this visual guide to what happens to the mind and body before, during, and after combat.

Keeping Our Covenant With America’s Veterans

By President Barack Obama

President Obama published an exclusive op-ed on Task & Purpose about America’s sacred covenant with veterans. The president reflected on the modern generation of veterans, the work he’s done on veterans affairs over the past eight years, and the work that lies ahead.

How I Earned My Ranger Tab

By Lisa Jaster

Maj. Lisa Jaster explains how she physically and mentally prepared for the Army’s elite Ranger School, and what it meant to be one of the first women to ever earn the Tab.

6 Types Of Vets Dominating Your Social Media This Election

By Adam Linehan and Matt Battaglia

Every election season, America’s veterans get on the internet to fight over how the country they swore to defend from enemies foreign and domestic should be run. We illustrated this year’s top six contenders.

Here’s Where Clinton And Trump Stand On Veterans Issues

By Sarah Sicard

We developed a comprehensive package of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's plans during the campaign for veterans, service members, and their families if elected president.

Watch: 15 Years Of War In Afghanistan, A Timeline 

By Task & Purpose

On the 15th anniversary of Operation Enduring Freedom, we released an original eight-minute video detailing the war in Afghanistan President George W. Bush launched in 2001.

Why ‘The Walking Dead’ Is Full Of Useless Idiots, According To A USMC Sgt Maj 

By Mike Burke

The characters of AMC’s popular post-apocalyptic drama struggle against all sorts of obstacles, from zombies to food security, to other groups of survivors. A Marine explained why they fail time after time after time.

Mark Wahlberg Thinks Celebrities Need to Shut Up About Politics

By Aaron Gell

The star of the new terrorism drama “Patriots Day” spoke to us about how out of touch Hollywood is with the average American.

The Tragic And Ignored History Of Black Veterans

By James Clark

Between the end of the Civil War and World War II, many black veterans who fought for their country abroad became victims of violent racism at home. We took a look at lynchings of black veterans in America between 1877 and 1950.

Why They Went: The Inside Story Of The Standing Rock Veterans

By Adam Linehan

In early December, staff writer Adam Linehan spent five days on the ground with an estimated 4,000 veterans descended on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota and helped put an end to a once seemingly hopeless struggle.

Photo: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.

Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers' driver's license on camera.

It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.

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Photo illustration by Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

It all began with a medical check.

Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.

It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.

Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.

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U.S. Army Cpt. Katrina Hopkins and Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Rogers, assigned to Task Force Warhorse, pilot a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operation at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Javion Siders)

U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of U.S. troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.

However, the mandatory approval process is not expected to slow down the time it takes the U.S. military to launch close air support and casualty evacuation missions for troops in the middle of a fight, said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

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Army Spc. Clayton James Horne

Army Spc. Clayton James Horne died in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 17, making him the eighth non-combat fatality for Operation Inherent Resolve so far this year, defense officials have announced.

Horne, 23, was assigned to the 351st Military Police Company, 160th Military Police Battalion, an Army Reserve unit based in Ocala, Florida, a Pentagon news release says.

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Joshua Yabut/Twitter

The soldier who was arrested for taking an armored personnel carrier on a slow-speed police chase through Virginia has been found not guilty by reason of insanity on two charges, according to The Richmond-Times Dispatch.

Joshua Phillip Yabut, 30, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle — in this case, a 12-ton APC taken from Fort Pickett in June 2018 — and violating the terms of his bond, which stemmed from a trip to Iraq he took in March 2019 (which was not a military deployment).

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