To be completely honest, it still does not seem real to me to have written a book about my life and experiences. After all, it’s my life. It’s what I’ve lived and to me, it’s normal with nothing special about it. Why in the world would someone be interested in reading something about me? Yet here we are.
The seed was first planted during my first deployment by a writer who was in Iraq for a project. It was early 2005 and I took him out on a couple of patrols on Haifa Street. As we were talking that evening, he wanted to hear my story and what led me to join. He thought the story of the guy leaving a good corporate job to serve his country post- 9/11 made for a good book. Of course, I laughed but little did I know what the following years of my life had in store.
After I left active duty in 2008, I was continually told I needed to write a book about all that went down. Just like with the writer in 2005, I always laughed and said no way. But inside I wasn’t laughing, that was my defense mechanism. I said no because I knew I was no position to relive the experiences of those past six years. Part of me was drawn to the idea and felt it was a story that needed to be told. The bigger part of me knew I wasn’t ready or in a position to do the story justice. One of the biggest proponents of me writing a book was Lynda Kagen. Lynda is the mother of one of the men I lost during my second deployment, Sergeant Ryan Green. Not a day goes by I’m not amazed at the courage she displays in how she continues to live her life for good. Needless to say, I hold her opinion in the highest regard. After years of telling her no way on the book, she brought it up again a few years ago. However, this time she didn’t ask or say I should write a book one day. No, this time she told me to. She said, “Jeff, it’s time…write the damn book. The story needs to be told and you’re ready to do it.” A few weeks later pen went to paper and here we are. I hope you enjoy the book. My goal was to tell the “real” part of combat, the toll it takes on the individual. Everyone who serves is a son, a daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, etc. The war is felt as much at home as it is on the battlefield. And it doesn’t end once you come back home. Everyone has a story, Veteran or not. We all face adversity in our lives and in our own stories. It’s easy to relish in the good times, but it’s these tough times that test us and ultimately define who we are. We win, we fail, but ultimately, we rise. This is my story and I hope you find it relates to yours as well.