It is hard to believe that it has been seven years since we invaded Iraq. My unit was a part of the initial invasion force. We fought our way up to Baghdad and then patrolled Saddam City (now Sadr City). I witnessed, and created, more death and destruction than most civilians can comprehend. And those images have remained with me since my mind first took mental snapshots of them. Those images will always be with me. Sadly, few Americans, besides those of us who served in Iraq, seem to care about our war. It has become one of the only U.S. wars that Americans can easily choose not to care about one way or another.
Now, on the seventh anniversary, the Iraq war will get a few seconds of coverage in between American Idol reviews and Dancing With The Stars critiques before being forgotten until next year. Forgetting about the Iraq War is a luxury I don't have. Each time I take one of the pills that have been prescribed to me for PTSD, whenever I hear a car backfire, and when reports of another U.S. casualty rolls across the bottom of the television screen, I go back to that land of bullets, bombs, and destruction.
"Clint," I tell myself, "it is over, move on." But it will never be over for me. A piece of me will always be in Iraq.
I only hope that I am able to convey my message on screen, that people will be able to get a sense of what it is like to be a combat veteran. The other Operation In Their Boots filmmakers want the same thing. We want Americans to pay attention to not only Iraq, but to the combat veteran experience. While my documentary focuses on the veteran readjustment process, the other documentaries cover topics such as U.S. soldiers and Islam; veterans attending college; substance abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan vets; and the story about how Rudy Reyes, a Recon Marine, overcame obstacles to become an actor and how he now uses his story to inspire others.
So, while many might not want to remember, we are going to make sure our stories are told. We're your combat veterans. We won't be ignored.