A Father's Gift Helps Connecticut Marine Reflect on His Service In Iraq

Oct 27, 2015

"One thing about war: the mind suppresses a lot of traumatic experiences, and that's a way of protecting you."
Gulaid Ismail

In the days leading up to Veterans Day, WNPR brings you stories from veterans and those in their communities.

Gulaid Ismail is a veteran of the Iraq War.

"I was in the Marine Reserve Unit, Charlie Company in Plainville, Connecticut," Ismail said. "We deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in 2006. We were there for seven months. To be now considered a veteran is a privilege. When I think about the deployment, it really put in perspective, as far as the liberties that we are able to enjoy.

"But it brings into mind also the ups and downs of being a veteran. It’s just a reality. When you go to war, it changes you completely. You see things differently, depending on where you were located. For me, in Fallujah, we lost a couple guys, seen some things that the normal person or the average person in the United States would not be accustomed to seeing.

"To help with those memories, the interesting thing is that my dad gave me a journal prior to deploying to Iraq. But when my dad provided it to me, I looked at him confused, because I’m like, Dad I’m a Marine. How would I look being in my barracks in my bed, kicking my feet up, writing in a journal? I could see the guys’ reaction, you know?

Gulaid Ismail visited WNPR to share his story as a veteran.
Credit Victor Suwatcharapinun / CPBN

Ismail's journal was given to him by his father.
Credit Victor Suwatcharapinun / CPBN

"But it actually was one of the greatest gifts, because it was therapeutic. It’s a time in history that I’ll never forget. One thing about war: the mind suppresses a lot of traumatic experiences, and that’s a way of protecting you.   

"And then, as time goes on, you start to have snippets of those moments in history, but to have detailed events basically because of what I wrote is, to me, a gift that I’ll always cherish.

"I call it now healing through sharing, but it took me a long time to actually get through that transitional period to be able to read the journal, because it brought back those painful memories."

Below Ismail reads an excerpt from his journal. Some listeners may find the content disturbing:

"I think about the sacrifices that were made, and the people that we lost, and the energy and time put into securing America’s future is what I think about Veterans Day; those brave women and men that served in the uniform," Ismail said.