Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.
On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.
The ten day timeframe would itself be laughable if it weren't for the fact that children born on September 11, 2001 are now eligible to enlist and possibly go to Afghanistan. So, if Wohl actually did follow through on his promise, he would conceivably still get to fight after spending a few months in poolee status, boot camp, MOS training, etc.
That said, Wohl will never enlist, war with Iran or no war with Iran. Is the hypothetical war with Iran somehow more worthy than the ones we've been fighting against the Taliban, Iraq, ISIS, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda in Iraq, or Al Qaeda original flavor for nearly two decades, i.e. nearly the whole time Wohl has been alive?
Editor's note: Traci J. Voelke is the surviving spouse of U.S. Army Maj. Paul C. Voelke, who was killed in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan in 2012 during his fifth deployment overseas. A mother of two, she is currently an attorney for the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where she serves as legal counsel for service members and their families, veterans, retirees, and Gold Star families.
I will never forget that day.
It was June 22, 2012, and I was getting ready to take my two boys, then ages 6 and 8, to a baseball game with my brother-in-law. The doorbell rang, then rang again a few more times, and I began to get a bit agitated as I thought my boys were taunting me to hurry up. We never made it to that game.
When I opened the door, two men in full military uniform stood in my doorway — a vision that will be etched in my memory for eternity. My husband, my high school sweetheart, my Paul, would not be returning from his fifth deployment overseas in Afghanistan.
In 2010 my rifle squad was finishing a patrol through southern Marjah, Afghanistan. With the temperature rising that May, sweat covered us as we passed through fully-bloomed poppy fields ready for harvest.
It had been quiet for most of the day so we were heading back to base. But after passing our final checkpoint, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was the earth exploding in front of us.
"Contact left!" I shouted to my squad as I raised my rifle and fired back at the Taliban ambushers, attempting to suppress their fire. Others bounded across the open field toward them.
It was over within minutes. By the time we got to their position, all that was left was an abandoned shooting platform. Like ghosts, the Taliban was gone.
My time in Afghanistan is long behind me now, but in spring I always tend to see, hear, and smell my war, and I fear I always will. People always ask me what things remind me of war. Is it loud noises? Lights?
Paradoxically, it is the radiant light of a spring day glistening on my skin. It releases feelings of regret and remorse entangled in my soul that only find respite in shadows hidden from the sun's golden rays.