Below is one email I found between college roommate and ROTC buddy, Kate, and I while we were both deployed in Iraq (but at different bases).  Re-reading our exchange, six years later to the day, gave me chills.  If you’d like to provide feedback on the impact the wars have made on our generation, please do so; I’m curious to hear what people think about some of the comments Kate and I made.  I ask, though, that you take into account where Kate and I were coming from at that point in our lives, as well as respect the fallen, those who have served who’ve been injured, and those who came back home “healthy” but forever hold something different in their hearts that only other Veterans can understand.  Thank you.
30 August 2005: via email“Hendricks 1stLt Katherine M (CE MPBN LNO)” <> wrote:Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Hi babe. Hope all is well. I have been talking to my pals a lot lately about whether they are getting out or staying in. I am interested to hear everyone’s decisions about staying in/getting out/going reserves. I think no matter what all are going to be quite well educated when done with respective grad schools. I think I may try for a masters while at PI so I do not feel all left out and uneducated! No matter what paths our lives take, I think we can be proud of the first four years here, of the hurdles we jumped to get here. I know I am better for it, and I think we are all irrevocably changed for the better because we joined at this particular juncture. My brother is nervous about coming to Ramadi (one of his IOC pals just died last week) and I wrote him a note to try and make him feel better. The things I said to him apply to you, too. You are one of the people worth knowing because of what you asked of yourself when it mattered. Forgive my cheesiness, but I really respect you J.
Matt, Al Anbar is dangerous. Lots of snipers and IEDs and otherwise bad people. But you cannot walk around here and worry or fear the enemy and their capabilities. You have to walk around like nothing bothers you. IDF goes off near me now and I do not even jump. Trust me when I tell you we have better people, better gear, better drive, bigger guns. I have kind of a fatalist attitude, too. Everytime I leave the wire I think, “well, I am likely not coming back, but that is ok and I will do my best.” You kind of have to rationalize the idea of dying out here. If it is meant to happen, you will have done everything as well as you could have done it. That is just how I mitigate fear, everyone has their own way of doing things. You will find your way. I am confident you will stay safe and kill lots of bad guys. I believe in your strength and in your capabilities and those of your marines. Other stuff is just luck, you know?
Keep in touch with family, with Lynn , and just be prepared to put it all in some one else’s hands for a time.
Matt there are a lot of people who do not believe in this mission or this war. A lot of the time I am one of them. But the right thing to do is not sit on your tail and be a non-contributor while the country goes to war on the backs of the same kids over and over again. You are not here because any of us care about this desert country, you are here for the Marines next to you, and because you have not forgotten that you owe your country something, that we have a duty to contribute somehow. I am sickened by our peers who are ok living a life of self-actualization and comfort, watch the news with mild interest, then go about their selfish civilian lives. People who live without giving anything of substance back. Matt, I am so proud to be among the people that we are. They are the people worth standing beside and being among. There is risk to being one of them, but the greater risk is living a life where you never offer sacrifice and live as a soul-less “taker”. Those people are not worth knowing. I am so proud that you are a person worth knowing, in a lot of ways more than most. Nothing in you has a natural draw to infantry or the Marines, but you did both to contribute and to prove that you could. I respect the hell out of you, and know you are doing the right thing at the right time. You will stay safe, and you will come home knowing that when the time came for our generation to stand up and give something back to the nation that has given us such privilege, you stood. I am proud of you.
 My response: 31Aug2005Hey kate.  sorry for a bit of a delay getting back to you.  yesterday turned into another legit day at work, and today will be too.  too bad it’s only going to get busier, esp. starting in a day or two when we finally, officially RIP with VMU-2.  anyway, thanks for the thoughtful email.  i’m so sorry to hear that one of your brother’s friends died.  there’ve definitely been a lot of young kids from our generation dying premature deaths in this war.  it is hard to explain even to my own family sometimes what we are doing here and that it is important and that we’re not perfect but the overall mission is a good one.  anyway…you’re right, this war has changed us as individuals and changed us as a generation.  my fear is that it hasnt changed our whole generation as much as we think it has, though.  we see all the effects and know how it’s changed people b/c all of our closest friends are in the military….yet my civilian friends just dont have a clue sometimes when it comes to this, though, ya know?  although, some are very interested and like to talk about the issues, so maybe they are being shaped…just differently. 
how’s your bro doing?  i bet he’s gotta be nervous as hell.  that’s gotta be tough to walk into a situation like that.  know that he’s got good people looking over him, though…my unit does A LOT of work in Ramadi and I’ve got some sh*t hot Marines working for me.    alright, keep me posted on when you’ll be coming through and keep your head up as you finish up here. you’re almost outta here!!! 🙂

September 2005, Al Taqaddam Chow Hall
Kate on her way out of Iraq, Me a few weeks into Iraq
(the difference in the color of our cammies gives that away 😉 )