"Being in the military is often an exercise in the surreal. The process of unreality begins in basic training, continues through your training and deployment, and peaks when you emerge on the other side with a DD-214 in your hand and years’ worth of (good, bad, painful, confusing, conflicted, devastating, frustrating, bitter, proud) memories in your head. The surreal is no longer the drill sergeant smoking you for eating a cookie, the officer ordering you to build a doggie door for his unauthorized pet or picking up the last unit’s garbage in the Mojave Desert for four days straight. The true surreal is watching the political process play out on brightly lighted screens showing dull-eyed commentators and analysts. The surreal is trying to connect with people back home — people who love you, people who like you, people who have put you out of their minds."

Sgt. Jonathan Raab, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom currently serving in Kuwait and spokesman for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Read his post on The New York Times’s “At War” blog.