All News & Blogs
Tom Sileo's op-ed column on the Unknown Soldiers: Worth a Listen
COURTESY OF THE GILLETTE FAMILY
Visit the Photo Place
ATLANTA--There is much talk about caring for our nation's veterans. From politicians to non-profit organizations, well-intentioned Americans are saying all the right things about ensuring that returning warriors receive the benefits they so richly deserve.
Still, amid a 24-hour news cycle and the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, a key component of helping combat veterans adjust to being home is sometimes overlooked. Too often, we forget to listen to the brave men and women who understand war as no civilian ever could.
Listening has become a big part of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Josh Gillette's life since a Nov. 1, 2012, blast by an improvised explosive device. With shrapnel embedded in his eyes, it's still difficult for the soldier to see the faces of his wife and 8-year-old daughter. But if you ask the wounded warrior to describe his harrowing sixth deployment, he will gladly oblige.
"I like telling my story," Gillette told The Unknown Soldiers. "A lot of people don't realize [the war] is still going on."
After serving three tours in Iraq and one in Bosnia, Josh was on his second deployment to Afghanistan in September 2012 when a powerful explosion threw him into the air before he landed several feet away. A fellow soldier had stepped on an IED and suffered devastating injuries.
"I was concussed and had to get to a fallen comrade who had lost both legs," Josh said. "We applied first aid and cleared a helicopter to land."
Two days later, the wounded soldier succumbed to his wounds, which left Josh and his Special Forces unit in a state of shock. Despite their grief, however, the soldiers knew they had to keep patrolling Afghanistan's volatile Helmand Province.
"We were pushing outside again to take over a stronghold that the Taliban had," Josh said. "We wanted to show the [Afghan Local Police] that we could take this area."