Courtesy photo

Editor’s note: The Long March will be closed for inventory the month of August. We regret any inconvenience this causes our loyal customers. In an effort to keep you reasonably content and focussed, we are offering re-runs of some of the best columns of the year. We value your custom and hope you will stick around for . . . the Long March.

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Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

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And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

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Photo courtesy of Alex McCoy

“The true cost of war — that’s what this week is about for me. That’s why I am here,” says Steve Acheson, a former Army forward observer and Iraq War veteran. Acheson, now an engineer and a farmer, speaks with a genuine honesty, indicative of his Midwestern roots. The Wisconsin native enlisted in the Army out of high school to go fight a war he truly believed in. And he’s still fighting. But this time on Capitol Hill for the warfighters no one talks about with fellow veterans, Kristofer Goldsmith, Thomas Burke, Alexander McCoy, and David Anderson.

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Photo by Airman 1st Class Areca Wilson

Internships may seem pointless and grueling at times, especially while being a full-time student. However, they are worth the trouble and commitment, even those that don’t offer any form of compensation. Despite the long hours and tedious, grunt work, internships teach valuable lessons. They can be especially important to student veterans trying to break into the professional world with little work experience outside the military.

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Photo by Timothy Hale

After hearing he had been stop-lossed and would be heading back to Iraq for a second time, Kristofer Goldsmith decided to end his life. Going back to war acted as a trigger to his ongoing and undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder that he had been silently suffering since returning home from his first deployment. In May 2007, the young Army sergeant washed down opiates with vodka and walked into a field.

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Photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks

My grandfather served in the Pacific during World War II and died three months before I shipped to Iraq. I can’t say I knew him well and that saddens me. He was a man of few words and so it was startling when he came up to me at a family event after finding out I was being deployed, grabbed me by the shoulders and just stared at me. He had tears in his eyes and didn’t say a word. At first I thought it was just an emotional goodbye and I half expected him to give me advice or impart some piece of battle-hardened wisdom, a moral nugget to take with me into the desert. But he just stood there in silence. He had been critical of the war in Iraq while I had been a supporter. I wouldn’t realize until later that it was the absence of his words that was most profound. In fact, it is language and the use of certain rhetoric that has left my generation isolated, inhibiting our ability to reintegrate, and impeding us from understanding our wars in any meaningful way.

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