Sam Dean | The Roanoke Times
Jordan's first day of rehabilitation is a big step toward his recovery, but it's still uncertain whether he will return to the Marines -- and face a third tour in Iraq -- or a civilian world he doesn't feel ready for. Either way, he considers himself lucky he hasn't come home in a coffin, isn't disfigured, isn't haunted by nightmares.
Many Marines and soldiers are serving multiple tours as the U.S. military copes with its lowest troop level in modern history, no draft bringing in fresh ground forces and no firm timetable for ending the war. Some troops are starting to question why they have to keep returning to Iraq, arguing that chaos will descend whenever U.S. forces pull out.
Jordan still sees the war as a worthwhile cause, although he doesn't think deeply about its causes and effects --his biggest concerns are bettering himself and helping the Marines "fight the good fight" as he understands it.
Like many, he joined the military not so much for patriotic reasons, but for practical ones -- including the self-discipline, job training and college aid.
He doesn't consider himself a hero, sees nothing noble in his choosing to enlist, nothing tragic in the arc of his life, just an ordinary guy helping himself and his country.
"I can't even say I've paid my dues just because I was blown up twice," he says. "Half the Marines don't want to be in Iraq, but I've never regretted it for one second, joining the military, going over there.
"But back home now, some people look at me and say, 'What happened to you?" And when I say 'The war,' they don't know what to say. They just say they're sorry and change the subject. They don't want to talk about Iraq. I don't know if people really realize what's happening over there."