According to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), 99 percent of Americans have seen some form of combat on television, yet only 1 percent have seen it in Iraq or Afghanistan.
For most of us, we may be touched by the stories we see on TV, or outraged by the violence that goes on overseas. But for those who haven't been in combat, it's impossible to truly know what it's like to be in a war -- or even more difficult, in some cases -- coming home from battle.
Troops face a job market in which civilian employers rarely understand or appreciate military skills and experience. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are already turning up on the streets much faster than other generations of veterans, often within 18 months of coming home, according to IAVA. And over time, the signature wounds of current conflicts -- psychological wounds and traumatic brain injuries -- may contribute to higher rates of homelessness.
Executive Director and Founder of IAVA Paul Reickhoff and Director of Government Affairs for IAVA Todd Bowers spoke to the Huffington Post about their own experiences reintegrating into civilian life -- and shared the insights they've gained listening to the stories of so many others as advocates for young veterans.
"I was amazed by how many people asked me how many people I killed," says Bowers. "That's not how I look at it at all. It's about the people I save."
Reickhoff mentioned that he appreciates being told "thank you for your service," but would love people to take it a step further: "When you see a soldier in uniform ask them where they're going. Engage with them."
We compiled the stories of veterans, military nurses and caretakers who took the time to share their personal experiences. Here's what they had to say.