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By Michael M. Phillips
Wall Street Journal
HOOVER, Ala.—Two years ago, Matthew Proctor dropped to his knees in the Afghan dirt and watched his best friend bleed to death.
These days, when dreams get disturbing or guilt eats at his gut, there is one person the former Marine corporal is likely to call: Thomas Rivers Sr., his dead friend's father.
When Mr. Rivers, 60 years old and a pharmaceutical executive, feels himself sinking into black depression or misses the pleasures of raising a son, it is the 24-year-old Cpl. Proctor he confides in or invites over for a boat ride. "He lost a best friend, and in a sense I lost a best friend as well as my son," says Mr. Rivers. "That is a bond we share."
War sunders some relationships and forges others. More than 6,500 Americans have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving gaping holes in families across the nation. Out of duty or kindness, guilt or need, the troops who survived often step forward to fill the voids their buddies left.
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By Robert Weintraub
New York Times
September 22, 2012
When No. 10 Clemson plays at No. 4 Florida State on Saturday night, Daniel Rodriguez, a walk-on wide receiver, will be a member of the Tigers' kickoff coverage unit. The sure-to-be frenzied atmosphere is not likely to affect him much.
That is partly because, at 24, Rodriguez is older than most college players. And also because his service in Iraq and Afghanistan will probably leave him unfazed by the raucous cheering of Seminoles fans.
On Oct. 3, 2009, Rodriguez was deployed in Nuristan Province, in the far northeastern corner of Afghanistan along the Pakistan border. He was a sergeant and had experienced a year of fighting in Iraq. About 50 United States and Afghan soldiers manned Combat Outpost Keating, a forward operating base near the remote town of Kamdesh.
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Some mourners at the funeral for 26-year-old Jonathan Blunk also said they've been told by officials that there are indications he may have tried to stand up to the heavily armed gunman and stop him during the July 20 attack in Aurora, Colorado.
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By Adam Ashton, Staff writer
At least the waiting is over.
That's small consolation for friends and family of 12 Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker soldiers who spent much of the past two years ensnared in a sprawling war crimes investigation.
The trials tested families in ways they couldn't have imagined when their sons and husbands enlisted in the Army. Some couples broke apart. Others came away intact, but found themselves thousands of dollars in debt from legal fees.
Our Veterans put everything on the line to protect our freedom. We may never be able to repay them for their sacrifice, but we can show them just how much we appreciate all that theyâ€™ve done.
Everyday, hundreds of people just like you volunteer to help our veterans. You can help by simply sharing your time, lending a warm smile, a supportive hand, or a sympathetic ear to someone ear needs it.
Everyone can do something to make our Veterans know how much we appreciate their service. What will you do?