Susannah Breslin's "The War Project," a series of interviews with veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has a new feature up: the story of Staff Sgt. Jason Deckman. The 38-year-old veteran has been in the Army for 16 years. "I dream about my weapon," he tells Susannah.
Deckman is a combat engineer who has deployed five times--to Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Iraq twice. He has served with the 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Armored Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 54th Engineer Battalion in Bamberg, Germany, and 420th Engineer Brigade. In early 2007, he transferred to the Army Reserves and is currently assigned to the 980th Engineer Battalion at Camp Mabry in Austin. Later this year, he will deploy to Afghanistan. He lives in Killeen, Texas.From Deckman's story:
One of the things that I got was I had nightmares for a while. I've been having a few more lately. It's a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. It's not normal to think you're going to be killed in the very next second. It does weird things to your brain.
I dream about my weapon. I can point it at the enemy, and I can see him coming at me, and I pull that trigger, and it feels like someone jammed gum inside there, and I can pull it, and pull it, and pull it, and it only budges a little bit at a time.
I didn't dream about IEDs while I was in Iraq. It wasn't until after I'd come back. I had one dream after I came back where I was walking through this little, shitty mud shack village. I kind of went up a hill on one side, and there was a little road come down to this ditch. Somehow I had fallen in the ditch, I couldn't get out of the ditch, and the enemy was up at the top of the hill rolling IEDs down the road at me.
INTERVIEW: Staff Sgt. Jason Deckman (thewarproject.com, interview and photo by Susannah Breslin)
The collection dates to the 1930s, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started building dozens of locks, dams and reservoirs, and the ground beneath them was excavated for archaeological treasures.US military vets working on archaeological project (Thanks, Steve!)
Prehistoric and historic pottery, stone tools, arrowheads, Indian beads, necklaces, earrings and ear spools, and ceremonial artifacts, even human remains, were collected. The items then sat in boxes and paper bags in university museums as well as private basements, garages and tool sheds.
In recent weeks, U.S. veterans - many with traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder - have begun processing, cataloguing, digitizing and archiving the collection as part of a one-year $3.5 million project, funded with federal stimulus money.