In our first investigative Dig following the November 1 relaunch of Truthdig, Russell Hausfeld traces the story of how military veterans and active soldiers became unlikely mascots for the so-called Psychedelic Renaissance. 

Read The Ecstasy of Agony.

Providing a soundtrack for Hausfeld’s investigation, audio artist Bart Plantenga debuts his new audio feature, Dig Scape, with a sound collage about the high costs of wars borne by the men and women who fight them. 

Read Dig Scape: Vets are People Too.

In 2013, we were proud to publish Iraq War vet Thomas Young’s searing “The Last Letter,” an open letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, written as he considered ending his life rather than continue to suffer from his combat injuries. “I hope that before your time on earth ends,” he wrote, “as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.”

Read Young’s full letter here

“Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.”

In 2006, Kevin Tillman wrote a prose poem for Truthdig about his brother, the NFL star Pat Tillman, whose death by friendly fire in Iraq became the subject of deception and manipulation by a Pentagon eager to capitalize on his celebrity. “Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground,” he wrote.

Read “After Pat’s Birthday” by Kevin Tillman here

The physical and psychic wounds suffered by tens of thousands of servicemen and women was the subject of a visceral 2006 essay by Ron Kovic that he addressed to the newly wounded of Iraq. “There is the long flight home packed with the wounded all around you, every conceivable and horrifying wound you could imagine,” wrote Kovic. “The frustrations, anger and rage, insomnia, nightmares, anxiety attacks, terrible restlessness and desperate need to keep moving will come later, but for now we are so thankful to have just made it out of that place, so grateful to be alive even with these grievous wounds.” 

Read Ron Kovic on “The Forgotten Wounded of Iraq” here.  

Truthdig’s original launch slate in November 2005 featured a photo essay by publisher Zuade Kaufman that opened a window into the daily life of Ron Kovic, Vietnam War veteran and the author of Born on the Fourth of July. “I am no longer the 28-year-old man, six years returned from the war in Vietnam, who sat behind that typewriter in Santa Monica in 1974,” Kovic explains in the audio recording that accompanies the photos, describing the life he’s built for himself since joining the peace movement.

See Kaufman’s “Ron Kovic Today” here.  

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