Iraq

In five wars over 10 years, Ron Capps shifted back and forth between being a U.S. Army officer and a State Department foreign service officer in some of the world's deadliest places.

In Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, he served as a senior military intelligence officer. In wartime Kosovo, Darfur and Rwanda, he worked as a diplomat out in the field, documenting violence and war. As he writes in his new memoir, all the while he was almost daily "in the midst of murder, rape, the burning of villages, crimes against humanity, war crimes, ethnic cleaning or genocide."

In his latest novel, Iraqi author Sinan Antoon gives readers a stark portrait of contemporary Iraq. Originally written in Arabic and translated into English by Antoon himself, The Corpse Washer was nominated for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize this year.

The book's protagonist is a young man named Jawad, an aspiring artist from a family of traditional Shiite corpse washers and shrouders in Baghdad. Jawad breaks from the family business and attends art school, where he devotes himself to the celebration of life rather than the ritual surrounding death.

Here's an old joke you may have heard: "How many Vietnam vets does it take to screw in a light bulb?" Answer: "You wouldn't know, you weren't there."

"Marines and soldiers don't issue themselves orders, they don't send themselves overseas," says former Marine Phil Klay. "United States citizens elect the leaders who send us overseas."

Kayla Williams and Brian McGough met in Iraq in 2003, when they were serving in the 101st Airborne Division. She was an Arabic linguist; he was a staff sergeant who had earned a Bronze Star. In October of that year, at a time when they were becoming close but not yet seeing each other, McGough was on a bus in a military convoy when an IED went off, blowing out the front door and window.

This Veterans Day, considers these lines from the preface to Fire And Forget, a collection of short stories by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

On the one hand, we want to remind you ... of what happened ... and insist you recollect those men and women who fought, bled, and died in dangerous and far-away places. On the other hand, there's nothing most of us would rather do than leave these wars behind. No matter what we do next, the soft tension of the trigger pull is something we'll carry with us forever.

As a decade of war winds down, Joint Base Lewis-McChord is adding to a memorial park for the fallen.

    

Between 2003 and 2011, nearly half a million people died during the Iraq War. That does NOT include U.S. soldiers. That’s according to a new study from four universities, including the University of Washington. Researchers looked at Iraqi deaths that resulted directly from violence. AND - non-violent deaths that were war-related. Researchers say they’re findings show that for every three people killed by violence in the Iraq War, two more died because of a collapsed infrastructure. Amy Hagopian with the University of Washington was the study’s lead author. She says about half of the deaths were cardiovascular. Stress is one reason, but moreso, she says, it’s just the failure of systems to respond to people when they have a heart attack.

A case that featured harrowing testimony of combat-related mental illness ended Monday with a guilty verdict. Army Sergeant John Russell was convicted for murdering five fellow servicemen at a military mental health clinic in Baghdad in 2009.

A military judge found the 48-year-old Texas native guilty of premeditated murder. A public affairs spokesman at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma says Sergeant Russell showed no visible reaction.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is at the center of yet another high-profile murder case. The Army announced Friday that Sgt. John Russell will face trial at Lewis-McChord in connection with a 2009 killing spree in Iraq.