Walking Through Fallujah

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Hello, I am David, and I am EPIC’s newest summer intern in strategic communications. I am a senior at UC Davis majoring in International Relations with a focus on Peace and Security and minoring in Middle Eastern Studies. My interest in the Middle East began when I joined the US Army in 2005. I knew that I would have to go to the Middle East, so I began researching the region to be as informed as possible in order to bring about the most positive change.

While in the Army, I was sent to Iraq twice: first to Anbar in 2008 and then to Basra in 2011. Many of the missions in which I participated were driven by humanitarian aid. It was during these missions that I was exposed to the living conditions of the Iraqis. I saw first-hand the terrible conditions under which many Iraqis lived, especially in the war-torn city of Fallujah. The first time I did a foot patrol through Fallujah, I was immediately reminded of post-World War II pictures of Berlin. My heart was saddened every time I saw a greatly damaged building which housed dozens of children from multiple families. Many of these families were supported by single mothers because so many Iraqi men have been killed over the decades of violence, starting with the Iran-Iraq war. It was through humanitarian aid missions that I felt like I was helping the Iraqi people.

Me in Fes, Morocco

After returning home from Iraq, I wanted to continue to help the people of Iraqi. This desire stems from two main reasons: first, I don’t want the efforts of my comrades in arms to be for naught. As an Operation Iraqi Freedom vet, I don’t want to see Iraq fall apart because then the efforts and lives of so many servicemembers will have been wasted. Second, while being deployed, I made many Iraqi friends who still live in Iraq under horrible conditions. Every time I hear about car bombings or other violence, I fear for their safety. I want to see a stable and safe Iraq so that Iraqis can live a peaceful life. In 20 years, I want to be able to look at Iraq and see that it is a prosperous nation. The veterans who fought in WWII and in Korea are able to look at Germany, Japan, and South Korea and feel proud because they helped in creating nations which are currently highly advanced in industrialization and human development, and nations which are strong allies of the US; I also want to have this pride.

I was attracted to EPIC because of its focus. I am completely behind EPIC’s mission and efforts to improve Iraq, and believe they can directly benefit many of my friends who make up Iraq’s youth, benefit Iraq as a whole, and benefit the US. I hope that my work through EPIC will continue to help the Iraqi people and bring them a more peaceful future.