From College to Combat
Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has volunteered to serve in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks in part to a small but firmly rooted ROTC program at the College, at least 54 Dartmouth alumni are among them. Unlike many members of the so-called Greatest Generation (the majority of whom were drafted), these modern veterans willingly chose to put aside potentially lucrative careers to don uniforms, enter into a chain of command and head off to fight abroad.
This issue explores, in their own words, why some of our best and brightest made that choice, what they learned while deployed and how their return to civilian life has been tempered by military experience. Their accounts provide a seldom-seen perspective on warfare, one filtered through the lens of the liberal arts, the Ivy League, the College on the Hill. Regardless of politics, these veterans served for their country, and they served for themselves. “I don’t consider myself a door kicker out of Apocalypse Now,” says Army Capt. Jon Vaccaro ’06, who served in Afghanistan in 2009. “People have problems with the way we’ve gone into these wars, but it didn’t matter to me whether I agreed with that or not. I felt I could influence my own little bubble, which was better than sitting at home not doing that.” The stories that follow demonstrate that Dartmouth’s newest veterans are indeed the few—and the proud.
Alumni veterans in this issue (listed in order of class year)