The following is an excerpt from Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson. Watch the video investigation by clicking the link at the bottom.
There are more than 18 million living veterans in the U.S. Each returns home after a different experience to begin a new life. Some have a great deal of difficulty adjusting. Former special operations pilot Nolan Peterson plucks at this emotional dilemma in his new book: “Why Soldiers Miss War.”
Nolan Peterson: My previous profession was as an air force special operations pilot.And when I left the military I ended up embarking on a career in conflict journalism. And in 2014 when the war in Ukraine began, I moved to Ukraine full time to report on the conflict and over the years I've also been to Iraq and Afghanistan, aboard a U S aircraft carrier off the coast of Syria. I've even trekked through the Himalayas, trekking down Tibetan freedom fighters, so I've certainly had a very interesting, adventurous transition after I left the military.
Sharyl: Before we get into the topic of your book, since you spent so much time covering Ukraine, it's important to ask, I think, what you think is not being covered now that ought to be here in the United States?
Nolan Peterson: I think my major takeaway from living in Ukraine for the last almost six years is that I've had the privilege to witness the birth of a democracy. In 2014 when Russia invaded, it was everyday Ukrainians who went out and took up arms and stopped the Russian advance in the Eastern part of the country. It was a grassroots war effort and showing a country that did not need to be prodded into war by propaganda. And I think that Americans should look to that story and be inspired by it because it truly is a country fighting for what are essentially American values.
Sharyl: But they're still fighting today. Is that right?
Nolan Peterson: That's true. And for me, after reporting on the war for so long, it's sad in some respects that there's an ongoing land war in Europe and people just don't seem to be aware of that or seem to be willing to pay much attention to that fact.
Read more about Attkisson v. DOJ and FBI here.
Sharyl: What gave you the idea for your book?
Nolan Peterson: So when I left the military, I experienced something which I think is very common among veterans, particularly combat veterans. And that's what I was searching for, a sense of purpose and meaning in my life and for me, my search to recreate that sense of purpose. After leaving the military, it led me to become a combat journalist and I ended up going off and going into some pretty dangerous places around the world from Iraq.
Sharyl: You call it a sense of purpose, but in some cases, do you think it's veterans who are addicted to that sense of excitement that comes with fighting or is it more purpose?
Nolan Peterson: I think when you're in a war zone, you experience the spectrum of emotions, which far exceeds what you would view a normal life. And so for many veterans, when they come back from war or when they returned to civilian life after the military, they feel like civilian life just doesn't cut it. It's just not, it just doesn't give them the sense of feeling like they're truly alive. And so it makes it really hard when soldiers come back from war to find meaning in life and to also feel that sense of community and tribe that they likely felt while they are in the military.
Sharyl: When did you come to a realization that this is what had happened to you? That you left a war only to then find yourself seeking something similar?
Nolan Peterson: Yes, and it was, to be honest, it was sort of a downward spiral for me in a sense that I kept taking greater and greater risks. I was going out on the front lines in Iraq with the Kurds against Islamic state and I, I'm pretty sure that I probably would have ended up being killed at some point. I've lost friends over the years, including James Foley was the American journalist killed by Islamic state. So for me, I know that this search for purpose as a combat journalist was likely ending to sort of a bad conclusion for me. It was when I met my wife, Ukrainian woman named Lily. I fell in love with her and it was through falling in love with my wife, that I finally was able to rediscover that sense of purpose that I thought I had lost when I left the military.
Sharyl: What do you recommend for other people? Maybe they are not going to have a spouse or have a, have a new sense of purpose that comes to them in that way. What advice is in your book for them?
Nolan Peterson: I think that what veterans go through when they leave the military when they come back from war is a lot of ways, representative of what we all are seeking. We're seeking meaning in life. So I encourage people to look to the stories of veterans like myself who have been able to move on after war because I think that story is a universal story and it represents something that we all go through.
Nolan says if you ask most combat veterans to name the worst experience and the best experience in their lives— they’ll say the war in answer to both.
Click on the link below to watch the video investigation:
Thomas Kilcrease says
If someone was straight leg infantry and had to walk the jungle, it's different. It's different when you see friends die and shot. It's different walking through human excrement fertilized rice paddies. It's different when you're walking point in a boobie trapped infested triple canopy jungle.
I don't miss those things Sharyl..
What I did miss after a quarter century in the Army was the camaraderie.
Finally, my own sense of purpose was never doubted. I made one, five, ten and twenty year goals and started to knock them out.
One foot in front of the other every day with out back stepping.
It wasn't easy, and I've had missteps, but with the help of God and my family I kept going.
For God and Country
SFC US Army Retired
Slave Nation says
You got this one wrong and so did your 'hero'! I guess he missed war so bad that he didn't mind reporting for the wrong side, the bad guys, in that war.
He couldn't have seen much there, unless he was embedded with those Ukies left starving and under supplied with their officers deserted. The Ukrops rocketed the villagers every evening killing and maiming thousands of innocents in their homes.
If he had been there, he might have seen the atrocities and swapped sides.
The Ukrop army was camped outside of the suburbs, sometimes scavenging the villagers for food and... well.... they abducted and raped a few girls there too and buried them. Their bodies were found with their hands tied in the same hole by their camp.
Western Ukraine was under so much propaganda when he was there he must have fell for it.
Young men were not volunteering to fight for the Obama backed junta in Kiev and were fleeing to Russia to escape the draft in droves. They were also surrendering to the secessionists or... 430 at one time in one case, to Russia at the border.
Why at the border? Because he was wrong about that too. Russia did not "invade" and that's where "the Russians" are...Russia.
The US/Soros/Deep State Invaded! First with agitators then "marksmen" and now weapons.
Poroshenko could not get his army so he instituted the draft to age 65 to get one.
The Donbass and Crimea lawfully seceded ---- because the US facilitated a coup against the president that was popular with them ---- and then Team Obama handpicked the junta replacement.
They had as much or more reason to secede than Texas did from Mexico.
I thought you would have known all this....your hero sounds like he was played by the Deep-State and the western Ukies. He should have been on the other side where it takes REAL courage to report from...and the costs to you are far greater.
I'm sorry, I just find it hard to believe any patriotic American who was in Ukraine or the area could side with the Soros and Nazi influenced western Ukrainians.