Still to this day, people thank me. It feels really strange, because I wrote a story. I didn’t put my life on the line or anything like that. I wish I could say that everything has changed for the soldiers, but it really hasn’t. I still get called and written to every week, not just Walter Reed, but people all over the world who are soldiers. Whenever I write a story, I always think, God, if only people could have been with me. This story is such a pale version of what I’ve seen, who I’ve talked to. In my dreams, I’d have a dinner party in which all my sources come together. They’re such unbelievable people. I can’t even believe that I get to meet people like them, who have had such amazing lives, and not always positive. They are just such characters. I want people to see these people, and their lives, because it’s more of an unvarnished version.

I’d like to figure out a way to bring people along, to say, “Be on my shoulder. Talk to the source. Get these two different versions. Look at this person without an eye, and listen to him talk about being dissed by the clerk in the hospital, because she doesn’t believe that he got a Purple Heart.” You know, I mean, just be right there.

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Jill Drew is a 2009-2010 Encore Fellow at CJR. She was an associate editor at The Washington Post until August 2009. For nine of her fourteen years at the newspaper, she was assistant managing editor for financial news.