Patrick Mondaca, Opinion contributor
July 3, 2017
I was discharged from the Army in 2004 following my deployment to Iraq, and the way back has been long. I think for years I didn’t really want to come back. The military gave me a sense of belonging and purpose and normalcy that I lacked in civilian life. And I didn’t find those things again until I went to Darfur with a humanitarian group in 2007.There need not be more senseless veteran deaths or captivities in war-torn countries. The time has come to think outside the traditional.
Austin Tice was a former Marine Corps captain and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who left for Syria prior to completing his final year of Georgetown Law School. Tice was captured by unknown armed actors in Syria while working as a freelance journalist in August 2012. He remains in captivity to this day.
Peter Kassig, a former Army Ranger and veteran of the Iraq War, was captured in Syria in 2013 and executed a year later by ISIS militants. Kassig had founded the nongovernmental organization Special Emergency Response and Assistance to help aid refugees in Syria and Lebanon in 2012.
I’ve often wondered what compels veterans like Tice and Kassig to take such risks in their post-war lives. T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) spoke of his own fondness for risk-taking in a letter to a friend just 15 days before dying in a motorcycle wreck. “In speed we hurl ourselves beyond the body,” he wrote. “Our bodies cannot scale the heavens except in a fume of petrol. Bones, blood, flesh, all pressed inward together.”read more here