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Week 1 Kaiser

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This is Week 1 journal entry from Zachary Kaiser, who is a student reporter for the War: Through Their Eyes, Vol. 3, Warriors & Students multimedia project.
Week 1 Kaiser

This is a photo of Todd Raley standing by a Humvee during his tour during the Iraq War

I first met with Todd on a Thursday when we both had time in between class. He was waiting at a table out of the main pathway at a table with a Pepsi in one hand and a book in the other.

He looked like what I expected a 23+ year veteran to look like. He is bald and has a face that aged just enough to show the world his experience. I have met tons of senior Non-commissioned officers just like him, which made me wonder if there was something that made them look a certain way. They were the men that looked too young to be your father, but not old enough either. On his hat was a logo for the Army Combatives, which is the army’s hand-to-hand fighting program. Maybe it was that hat that made me picture him right at home with his face bloodied and beaten, and his hands raised in an octagon ring.

We started to discuss the project and quickly went through his military career. Even though it was extensive, it only took a few minutes. In my experience this is common. Soldiers have rattled off their rank, unit designations and various duty stations so many times, it requires little thought. But after we got the logistics out of the way, we talked like soldiers. We started to swap stories and share battle scars, inside and out. I have met a lot of people claiming PTSD, but Todd was the first I’ve heard say that part of his was from being away from his children for so many years.

As we discussed the various things we did,  he sometimes sat with a half smirk, and other times with a solemn expression that snapped one to attention regardless of the current topic.

 Zachary Kaiser Weekly Journals

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