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How America Rolls: Veterans Volunteering to Fight ISIS


The New York Times has a very interesting story today regarding a growing number of American veterans volunteering their service to fight Islamic State terrorists. Even as President Obama can’t commit to stopping the terrorist organization, veterans have decided to take matters into their own hands, returning to the battlefield to fight the group.

Interestingly, the very headline of the article focuses on ‘disenchantment with civilian life,’ seemingly ignoring the main content of the article itself.

Starting with the story of Patrick Maxwell, an Iraq War veteran, the Times mentions his civilian life selling real estate, but Maxwell never lists that as the main reason he left for a period of time to join Kurdish security forces in the fight against ISIS.

“I may not be enlisted anymore, but I’m still a warrior,” he explained.

He goes on to mention “kill(ing) as many of the bad guys as (he) could,” something Maxwell refers to as “a good thing.”

No mention of escaping the real estate business, though he indicates he jumped around from job to job toward the end of the article.

While it certainly could play a role in the decision making process, the Times seems to bury the lede in this piece – as one filmmaker flatly conveys, “More than anything, they don’t like ISIS and want to help.”

Via the New York Times:

Mr. Maxwell is one of a small number of Americans — many of them former members of the military — who have volunteered in recent months to take up arms against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, even as the United States government has hesitated to put combat troops on the ground. Driven by a blend of motivations — outrage over ISIS’s atrocities, boredom with civilian life back home, dismay that an enemy they tried to neutralize is stronger than ever — they have offered themselves as pro bono advisers and riflemen in local militias.

“More than anything, they don’t like ISIS and want to help,” said Matthew VanDyke, an American filmmaker who has spent time this winter with four American veterans covertly training a militia of Assyrian Christians in northern Iraq to resist ISIS. He is now recruiting more veterans to help, though late in February, the American Mesopotamia Organization, a California-based nonprofit that helped fund the militia, broke ties with him.

One official count indicates over 100 American citizens fighting alongside Kurds in Syria.

Watch Maxwell’s story below…

Do you think veterans are returning to the battlefield more because they are bored with civilian life, or because they’ve lived their lives doing the right thing?