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You’ve probably heard of the Iraq War, and you probably supported the United States in its involvement there. But did you know that your government was using private contractors to fight that war? And how much you knew about them? That’s where this article bookends its two-part story: one about discussions about contracting with private parties to fight a war, and another about what that means for military veterans who are affected by it. We’ll take you through the three main questions we asked of our 220+ interviewees — and what we learned from them. We hope this info helps:

What’s the meaning of the War on Terror?

The term “war on terror” refers to a strategy U.S. President George W. Bush used to fight terrorism, in particular the ideas and methods associated with the 9/11 attacks. The war on terror is partnerskeneokafortechcrunch concerned with the pursuit of terrorists and those who support or assist them. It’s opposed to the “war on drugs” and other forms of “legal” war in which the United States is the main target.

How much did we know about contractors before the war?

We surveyed 220+ veterans and military personnel who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and let’s see what they had to say. We found that most of them had been aware of companies like H RC (formerly known as R.C.S.), and that they had discussed contracting with them previously. We also learned that one specific man, George Gittles, had worked for a short period of time for a contractor working for the U.S. Department of Defense. But the majority of our veterans had not had any interaction with contractors before the war.

What does a “war on terrorism” look like for military veterans?

When we spoke with military personnel who had served in the Iraq War, we found a few things interesting. One was that some of them were surprised that the war had taken place, while others were incredibly nervous. The former were likely surprised at the idea of fighting to the death, while others likely thought of it as “a chance to get out.” We also heard that a small number of those who were involved in the military training program had actually volunteered to fight, and were willing to do so even if they were not members of the military.

The big picture: What does it mean for you?

The main takeaway from our interviews, as far as we could gather, was that the war on terror can cover many different issues your organization is concerned about. If your main concerns are about the “war on drugs” or about “legal” war, then we recommend that you focus almost entirely on those issues. If you’re concerned about the role of the federal government in the war on drugs, or about the abuses of the federal drug program, then we recommend that you focus on the states. You can also visit the Department of Veterans Affairs and ask if they have any recommendations on how to better manage the VA’s drug addiction program. In general, we recommend that you keep your concerns to yourself and that you don’t talk to anyone in an official capacity (like a surgeon general or Secretary of Defense).

Define “Iraq war”

When it comes to the “war on terrorism,” we call it the “early 2000s” campaign. The “Iraq war” refers to the period from mid-2001 through mid-2007, when U.S. occupation forces were dispatched to war-ravaged Iraq. This year’s “war on drugs” refers to a period from mid-2011 through mid-2015, when U.S. war activities were focused in Nevada and California.

Should we be concerned about our heroes after 9/11?

After 9/11, Congress passed a number of bills promoting mental health and by limiting the reach of the War on Drugs to specific crimes, the American citizens who served or who are veterans could examine the quality of their service and the degree to which their service was appreciated. That kind of coverage is called “kindergarten education” and it can be incredibly helpful when dealing with a “war on terrorism.” It’s not just that vets can say, “My war… was my best war.” It’s that they can also say, “This war on terrorism has impacted my life and my family, and my family is hurting. What can I do about it?”

Wrap up

The Iraq War is a collective history. It ranges from the personal experiences of the soldiers who served to the collective accounts of their loved ones and the people around them. It is a very personal war, and it is complicated by the complex histories of the people who served, and the people who followed them. The Iraq War is also a story of US foreign policy and the efforts of public officials to combat terrorism – and the impact that has on the lives of veterans and military personnel today. The Iraq War has shaped each of us and continues to do so. Now more than ever, it’s important to remember that any action taken in response to 9/11 has an impact that lasts a lifetime.

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