This book is based on ethnographic fieldwork work carried out from Sep-
tember 2007 to August 2008, primarily with severely injured soldiers and
their family members (including spouses, parents, siblings, children, or
some shifting combination thereof) rehabilitating at Walter Reed Army
Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and living for some time at the com-
munal Fisher House there. My ethnographic work at Walter Reed was
spread throughout the year but concentrated in September–November
2007 and May–August 2008. From March to June 2008 I did a good deal of
work with Iraq Veterans Against the War (ivaw), both at their Winter Sol-
dier testimonial event and with members of their D.C. chapter. From De-
cember 2007 to February 2008 I was primarily focused on Ft. Dix, a large
mobilization base in New Jersey, where I learned about mental and behav-
ioral health programs and the role of the chaplaincy and sat in on suicide-
prevention training and other briefings for deploying soldiers. Throughout
the year I attended congressional hearings related to the “war on terror,”
talked to think-tank affiliates who worked on relevant topics, and inter-
viewed a small number of 9/11 survivors and first responders in New York
and D.C. This multisited work yielded rich insights, many of which are em-
bedded in this book, but I have found myself continually drawn back to the
lives of those I’d met at Walter Reed. Those lives are the substance of this
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