After nearly two decades, America recently ended its war in Afghanistan, our nation’s longest conflict. A generation of Americans born after 9/11 has never experienced a time when the United States was not at war.
This includes those who fought. As I complete my book “The Forever Soldiers: Americans at War in Afghanistan and Iraq,” I have been struck by the uniqueness of these fighters when contrasted with those of other major long-term conflicts, including Vietnam.
The most obvious contrast is that the millions in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan were volunteers, and increasingly large numbers were women. Many others joined after 9/11, driven by rage and a desire to protect the country from terrorists. By the end of the conflict, it would even include young people born after 9/11.