Sebastian Junger: “The Last Patrol” | Talks at Google
Articles, Blog

Sebastian Junger: “The Last Patrol” | Talks at Google

August 9, 2019


SPEAKER 1: Thank you. CARRIE LAURENO: Again, my
name is Carrie Laureno. I’m the founder of the
Google Veterans Network. I’m so happy to be here
tonight, with Sebastian Junger, with Guillermo Cervera,
and Brendan O’Byrne, who we just saw in
this incredible film, “The Last Patrol.” Again, wonderful to be
here with all of you friends from Iraq and
Afghanistan Veterans of America, Student Veterans
of America, Team Rubicon, Team Red, White, and Blue,
Veterans Advantage, and the US Military Academy
at West Point, as well as many Googlers as well who
are in this audience. It was an incredible
film, Sebastian. I’ve seen all three
of your films. And when I watched “Restrepo”–
and we screened it on this very stage– for those of us who
haven’t served in the military, we were able to experience
what it meant to go to war. “Korengal” gives
you a feeling of why it’s so hard to
leave that behind. And now, with “The
Last Patrol,” you’re giving us an
opportunity to see what it feels like to come home
and reconnect with America. And I want to thank
you for letting us come on this journey with
you of your own transition. And it’s very clear to
all of us in this room, and those watching, that
the transition process for those leaving combat,
and combat reporting, or combat in general,
is a very difficult one. That people have
great expectations when they come home. And sometimes those
expectations aren’t met. I have to say my favorite
character was Daisy, far and away. No offense to you guys. At Google, you’re
allowed to bring your dog to work every day. And we thought last night
about inviting Daisy. And that would have been fun. Maybe we’ll do
that another time. But she did a great job. Loved her camera work. What did you say? BRENDAN O’BYRNE: She was
our best camerawoman. CARRIE LAURENO: I was
just going to say, she was an excellent
camerawoman. She did a fantastic job. SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
She’s getting more work than I am right now, actually. CARRIE LAURENO: So I took
away some really big themes from all of this– combat,
America, fathers, the influence and the impact of
your relationships with them, addiction of
different kinds, manhood. There’s some really,
really big powerful themes that stood out for me. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: You forgot
how to cook in your car engine. CARRIE LAURENO: That’s right. I want that cookbooks. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: It’s
called “Manifold Destiny.” No, it’s not a joke. It is called “Manifold Destiny.” I tracked it down. It was a classic from the ’70s. CARRIE LAURENO: Oh my gosh. I feel like we
should get everybody in this audience a copy of that. BRENDAN O’BYRNE:
Imagine the sales. I mean, they just haven’t
been sold for years. And then all of a sudden,
200 copies get sold off. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: You can get
them on Amazon, seriously. CARRIE LAURENO: OK. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: For real. CARRIE LAURENO:
“Manifold Destiny.” SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
“Manifold Destiny.” CARRIE LAURENO: OK. So of all of those
themes– and there are many others that
I didn’t mention– I want to talk about
purpose, and what your purpose was in doing this. Clearly, you had a goal
to reconnect with America, and to decompress after war. But why did you really do this? Such an interesting idea. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Originally,
when I first had the idea, was going to do it with Tim. And it was going to be a
way to show Tim America and for me to understand
America in a new way. If you make yourself
vulnerable and marginal, you have a very different
relationship with a place than if you’re just
driving through it. And you’re very marginal
and vulnerable if you don’t have a place
to sleep at night. I mean, really, if you want
to experience being marginal, just walk out your front door,
and don’t come back at night. Spend one night out. Find a place to curl up. And come back in the morning. And you’ll experience
what it is to be a vulnerable person
in this society. And you’ll feel
vulnerable no matter how much you have in
your bank account. You just do that, you’ll get it. And I wanted to experience
America little bit like that. And I thought the railroad
lines would provide us this sort of view from
the inside out in America. Highways go around
towns or whatever. Railroad lines go straight
through the middle. So that was originally
what I wanted to do. And then Tim died. And so I had this whole
thing was struggling with. And I got to know Guillermo
because of Tim’s death. And we’re great friends. Really, really close. But I wouldn’t have met him
otherwise, I don’t think. And Brendan and Dave I knew, Tim
and I knew, from Afghanistan. I just said, OK. Here’s four guys who’ve
been in a lot of combat. We’re not going to
go back to war again. And maybe we could also
have this long conversation. It just seemed like a way
to– I needed a change. I was 50 years old. A lot had happened in my life
in the previous few years. I really needed a change. And I just thought if I put
myself in an extreme place– but with people that I really
trusted and was connected to– that’s how you change. CARRIE LAURENO: And Guillermo,
why did you agree to go? GUILLERMO CERVERA:
At the beginning, when we were
walking, I would use to say, Sebastian, I
don’t see this story. I don’t understand why
we have to do this. I was very tired every day. I didn’t like to sleep outside. So I kept going. CARRIE LAURENO: We know what
you think of the Army poncho. BRENDAN O’BYRNE:
Most Army products. CARRIE LAURENO: That’s real? AUDIENCE: Yeah. GUILLERMO CERVERA:
They are very bad. They’re supposed to be
impermeable, but they are not. Yeah. And when we kept
going and going, and I was just going because it
was a great opportunity for me to photograph America
and be in the movie. So I kept on going. But I kept on saying, Sebastian,
I don’t see the story. But after a while,
I start to see. And to see was something more
than being there photographing in the project. Was more about my inside. What I was experiences. And dealing with three guys. I didn’t know them. And they have kind of the
same problem that I have. That’s what made me more
touched with the film. And after all, I learn a lot. CARRIE LAURENO: And Brendan,
it sounds like you liked it so much that it was
hard for you to leave. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Yeah. I was going through a really
rough time in my life, also. It was really me
breaking up all my wife, was the starts of that. I was in bad in drinking. I was drinking a lot. And all those things. It was really nice to
get away from all that. When staying at my house,
I couldn’t stop myself from drinking. But being in the middle of the
woods, I couldn’t get booze. So that was like sure way
of not drinking for a week. And that’s what I did. And also, my wife
wasn’t there, so that’s why I really loved it. CARRIE LAURENO: OK. It wasn’t actually about combat. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: I
wasn’t trying to heal. CARRIE LAURENO:
Different kind of combat. Got it. So on this journey,
it seemed like you all met some really
interesting characters. And really, like a slice
of America that most of us don’t see all of the time. And I wonder what it felt
like to see that, especially for Brendan, after being
in combat and coming home, and the people on whose
behalf you served. Seeing them, hearing what
they had to say about America. What was that experience like? Meeting people who
are so disconnected from the experience that
you went through in the war. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Yeah. Meeting America
was great for me, because it really showed me
what I fought for, really. And it’s really sad to see what
state our country’s actually in. There’s a lot upset. A lot of poverty, a lot of drug
abuse, a lot of alcoholism. And it was sort
of sobering to see that that’s the place I was
fighting for is doing really poorly in some places. So it was really good to
get to see that, and say, all right, well,
now there’s a battle here at home, also,
that I could fight. And the disconnect is going
to happen no matter what, because there’s only 1%
of our country that’s fighting in the military. So I understood that
disconnect was going to happen. So that didn’t bother
me as much as it really bothered me to see how many
people are living in poverty– and living, actually,
probably, worse off than I was in
Afghanistan, in many ways. What really surprised
me was the fact that when we were walking
through the bad parts, quote unquote, the
bad parts of towns, was where we actually
got the most help. Was where we got the
most support from people. It wasn’t in richer,
upper-class areas. They didn’t want to help us. But that the people that
were low on the totem pole, the people that were
really just trying to survive, they wanted to help us. And that says a lot
to me about community. Community’s still alive
in those small groups, in those places of poverty. And it’s not alive in places
like upper-class, middle-class areas. It’s just not alive there. And that surprised
me, because I thought it was going to be the opposite. CARRIE LAURENO:
And Guillermo, I’m really curious to hear
your opinions about that. You’re originally from Spain. And you’ve lived here off
and on for many years. And you’ve been around
the globe a few times. From the perspective of
someone who isn’t American, having the chance to walk
the railways with two Americans or three Americans
and seeing what you saw, it seemed like there is
an equal amount of pride that these folks felt, as well
as a great degree of sadness that came through. And I’m curious, as
someone who isn’t American, what your impression was about
the state of our country. GUILLERMO CERVERA: Well,
America is just fascinate me, because it has a
lot of weird things. And I like them to photograph. But also rejects me. I see a lot of the people
insane, and a lot of problems that we don’t see when we are
in Europe looking at the movies from America. And I had that feeling
like the people is really– when you walk
around, you see a lot of pain, a lot of pain in faces. And that happens everywhere. Everywhere you see that problem,
because it’s a human problem. I see it in
Afghanistan, everywhere. But the difference, I feel,
is like in other countries, people help each other more. And here you see a
lot of individuality and a lot of loneliness. That makes the problem bigger. And that’s my feeling. CARRIE LAURENO: And that’s
something you’ve seen before? Or this trip brought
that to life for you? GUILLERMO CERVERA:
Well, I saw it before when I came here
when I was in college. I came two or three
years for study. And I live upstate
in New York, in Troy. And there’s a lot of
people insane there. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. I’m writing an
article about PTSD right now for “Vanity Fair.” And I just heard about this. They had a really– I
had this sort of idea that one of the things
that’s hard for combat vets to come back to is the
alienation of society. I mean, if you’re in
a platoon in combat, you’re never further
way then a few feet from another person for a year. In a very, very close,
intense, human experience. And then you come
back to this society, and it’s much more spread
out, and often alone, right? So that maybe the problem
with combat trauma isn’t the combat
trauma, it’s that people are trying to heal
by themselves. And individual
therapy, and whatever. The community experience
is lacking here. So I’ve been talking
to people about that. They did an experiment
with lab mice. And you can
traumatize a lab mouse and give it traumatic
stress, right? You can give it PTSD,
just like humans. And those of trauma, you can
keep those going indefinitely if you keep startling
the mouse, right? Loud noises, whatever. You can keep those symptoms
going after the trauma. But only if the
mouse is by itself. If you put that mouse back
in a community of my mice, no matter what you do, you
cannot keep those trauma symptoms at the same level. They decline. I think when you
talk about people being in pain in this
country, and alone, I think he’s really right. I think there’s a
lot of pain here. And it comes from a
sort of basic loneliness that a lot of people
feel in suburban– I grew up in the suburbs, the
loneliest place in the world, I think. CARRIE LAURENO: I
can’t wait to read it. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Thank you. CARRIE LAURENO:
It’s interesting. Some of the veteran
service organizations that we partner with here at
Google– like a Team Rubicon or a Team Red, White, and
Blue– those organizations get people out into the field. And I believe there’s was
a article written recently on task and purpose
about how being downrange together, having
that camaraderie, is something that these
organizations are trying to foster for veterans who
are coming back from these two wars. And it seems very similar
to the environment that you were replicating
on this patrol. That’s interesting. What, specifically,
looking back on it now, was similar about
the patrol and war? There was a couple things
that stood out to me. And I remember at one
point in the film, you are looking out–
maybe through binoculars– you were looking out for
cops who were far away. And it was almost like they
were the enemy in the situation. And you were trying to– SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Almost? CARRIE LAURENO: Almost. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: They
weren’t the enemy. But they were
definitely a challenge. CARRIE LAURENO: No, I
remember watching “Restrepo” and thinking, oh, this is like. You’re looking way
out for the Taliban. Where are these guys? And you’re doing the same thing. You’re taking cover from
trains that are going by. You’re taking
cover from bullets. And it felt similar without
the lens of combat there. What, for you guys, was most
similar about the experience? GUILLERMO CERVERA: I
didn’t find any similarity. CARRIE LAURENO: No? GUILLERMO CERVERA: The only
thing I felt is, as I told you before, after a few
trips in the patrol, I felt like coming back
to see these guys to spend more time with them. Because I felt good. And that’s kind of the feeling
when you go through a war, and you are with
friends– journalists, in my case– you feel good,
because you help each other. And you are that
kind of situation. For me that was the similarity. Maybe for them was
something different. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Yeah. For me, it’s the
idea that in society, like Sebastian was saying,
it’s a group of I’s. Everyone is I, me. Inside combat, I only used I
and me was when I fucked up. When it was my fault. Hey, my bad. That was my fault. And the rest of the
time, we used we, because that was what we were. And inside of the patrol,
we had to do the same thing. We had to leave the I
at home, and use the we. And you could see it. One of the times Guillermo was
having a hard time walking, and it was really hot. And Sebastian took his pack. I mean, those are the things
without even– actually, demanded, give me your pack. So those are the things that
you don’t see in society. I think there was
a homeless person, or there was someone, I
think, dead in the street? I can’t remember the exact
story in New York City. And there was like a few hundred
people that passed by him and didn’t even help him. And they didn’t know
he was dead or dying. And that says a lot. That’s lonely, When people
are walking past you and you’re dying, and
they don’t help you. In combat, that doesn’t happen. So the similarities were
that we were all there, and we are all supporting
each other in every way. And we got shot at one time,
which was sort of similar. But it wasn’t very accurate, so. CARRIE LAURENO: I’m sure
there are a lot of people here who have questions. We have some mics
out in the audience. It would be great if
anybody has a question, if we could bring a
mic over to those folks so that their
questions are audible. AUDIENCE: Hi. Well, I have a question
about audience. And I’ve seen “Restrepo.” I haven’t seen “Korengal.” But “Restrepo”
seemed like a film that was designed
to educate the 99% to see what that’s really like. Here, though, the
reason I ask this is because one of
the significant challenges a veteran deals
with when he comes home is that trust situation. The ability to trust someone
who hasn’t been there with them. And I happen to work a lot with
veterans and experience that. And yet while this is still
educational for civilians, there seems to be
another– I’m wondering how important the military,
the veteran audience is. Because on the one
hand, these may be soldiers that
are like that, that don’t want to talk to anyone. But yet, although
you’ve been shot at quite a bit and lost
one of your best friends, you are a civilian. As are you as well, Guillermo. And there are many stories
filtering through the film that are all about
childhood traumas– the dog getting killed. Your example, the mice. Trauma, in many
cases, feels the same. And I wonder how intentional
and how important the audience of a veteran is
for you, in the sense that they can come back and relate
to people in that way, in terms of empathy
and the universality of post-traumatic stress. And I wonder if that’s a helpful
starting point for a veteran. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. I absolutely had veterans
in mind making this film. Not exclusively. But absolutely had
veterans in mind. I thought of it as an example
of collaboration and closeness, but back home. So you can do it here, too. And the consequences are
almost certainly not fatal. So that’s a good thing. But you do get a lot
of the same closeness. And so, absolutely, I
thought about veterans. But in some ways,
I thought civilians could learn about
veterans with this film. Soldiers could learn
about journalists. I’m a journalist. Guillermo’s a journalist. It’s all men. I feel like women
can watch this film and learn something about men. CARRIE LAURENO: I learned a lot. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Did you? BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Unfortunate
truths about men? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. Yeah. The sexes are bizarre and
frustrating to each other. And here there’s four
men talking pretty openly about everything, including
about their feelings about women. Just seemed like that
might be interesting. And it would allow veterans
to learn about America. Among other things, we’re
walking through America. And it’s a much weirder
country than I quite realized. We all live in our communities
and we know those communities, but until you walk
through other communities, you can drive through–
sorry, it’s not the same. If you walk through,
and you have to find a place to
sleep that night, and you have to
engage with people, you really get to
know where you are. And as Brendan was
saying, the communities that were the most
intimidating to me absolutely were the most welcoming. And the ones where we
actually really had problems were the wealthy
communities, like the kind of town I grew up in. Actually a really
interesting experience. CARRIE LAURENO: Other questions? AUDIENCE: Hey. So Sebastian and
Brendan, we kind of share a brother–
Tanner Steester. I went to basic
training with that guy. He the forward
observer that guys might know from his first movie. And really, my
question is what’s it like to be journalist–
a civilian– let into that circle? Into that brotherhood? Because I say every day I’m
a student veteran leader. And I tell people all the
time, look, we’re all brothers. We’re all sisters. Once you served in
the military, doesn’t matter if you’re in
uniform or if you’re out. If you deployed, if you didn’t
deploy, it doesn’t matter. Once you raise your right hand
to serve, you’re my brother. And Sebastian, we’ve
never met before, but after seeing your
films and knowing who you’re connected
with, I feel like you’re part of that circle. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Absolutely. AUDIENCE: What’s it
like to get into that? And have that unique perspective
as far as a civilian goes? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Well,
you know, I– thank you, first of all. I think in any group, the
amount that you’re allowed in is connected to the amount
that you’re willing to give. If you’re in a group you
don’t know very well, you’re not really part of it. And you’re probably not willing
to give very much of yourself up for it, right? But as you get close
to people– as you learn to connect to
them, you love them, you’re worried about
them, whatever– the amount of yourself that
you’re giving out rises. And likewise in the
other direction, that connection rises also. And so by the end
of the deployment that I covered with
Tim– before the end, but as it went by–
I felt completely part of that platoon. And I think they thought
of me that way, too. And one of the
things that I really liked about the patrol,
the last patrol, was that we kind of did
that with each other. And I think we all had to
learn to think about the group more than about how we
individually were feeling. So when I took
Guillermo’s pack, I was sort of putting
him ahead of me. And I know that in
another circumstance he would have done that for me. And once you’re in that
kind of relationship with a number of other
people, you’re home free. That’s, I think, where
we all want to be. And I think in
this society, it’s hard to find circumstances that
require that or even permit it. I’d like to ask
you, though– have you been embedded with
US forces in Iraq? GUILLERMO CERVERA: Yes, I was. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: I’d love
to know what– I mean, I’m an American with
American forces. As a foreigner with
American forces, how did you feel with them? How did they think of you? I’m just curious. What was your experience? GUILLERMO CERVERA: I think
the beginning is hard, because they don’t know you. And it’s hard for
them to trust you. But at the end is very
similar than being embed with the Afghans
in this example. At the end, all make a group. They accept you. And they treat you really well. And they protect you. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Great. GUILLERMO CERVERA: And I think
it’s more a matter of humanity. They take care of
each other as a group. As the thing that happen
with us in patrol. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Guillermo, did
they pull pranks on you, also? Because we harassed Sebastian
quite a bit out there. And that’s when
we really told him that he was part
of the group, was where we started pulling
really bad pranks on him. We found out he was
afraid of spiders, so. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: If
you’re ever embedded, don’t tell them you’re
scared of spiders. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Or anything. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Or scared
of anything, for that matter. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Or
your mother’s name. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Or
your mother’s name. Definitely not
your sister’s name. BRENDAN O’BYRNE:
Important information. Write it down. CARRIE LAURENO: Other questions? This side of the room. Do we have mics over here? AUDIENCE: I got you right here. I actually have two questions. First question is how’s Dave? BRENDAN O’BYRNE: He’s good. I think he’s over– No, SEBASTIAN JUNGER: He’s back. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: He’s back. AUDIENCE: He’s back now. Good. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: I can
answer that real quickly, just add to that. He went over with
a private outfit, but working with the military. And then he finally
came back again. I just sent him an email
and said, hey, man. How you doing? What are you up to? And he said he just got a
place in central Wisconsin. Way out in the
woods, like 80 acres. And he said he’s been splitting
wood and hunting a lot. And so, like, OK,
you’re probably good. AUDIENCE: That sounds good. awesome. OK. So second question. And this one kind of hits
me both from “Restrepo” and from “The Last Patrol.” For me personally, in
the same situation– and for a lot of folks that I
know in my current position who haven’t been in that
same situation– for me, it’s all about control. When you’re with your friends
and you’re with your brothers and sisters, you don’t have
to worry about yourself. Somebody’s got your
back all the time. Somebody’s telling
you what to do. You’re telling somebody
else what to do. And it’s kind of
this big circle. But as soon as you get back,
you kind of lose all that. And you have to figure out how
to have control of yourself again. And what I found
myself a lot is trying to find somebody to
take control over me. Tell me what to do. Tell me where to go. And there’s constant
inner struggle. I want to take
control of myself. But also, I want
that same feeling where when times are
tough, I want somebody to tell me what to
do and where to go. And I got that same
feeling from both movies. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. I think, actually, strangely,
it’s a really good feeling to be in a group
where you have a job. Where you’re being given
a job, sometimes, and told to do something. Because it means that
a, you’re trusted. But b, that you’re also
being taken care of. Guillermo, you probably–
I was with Brendan and Dave in Afghanistan in a platoon. But your experience more
has been a little bit more independent, right? So the patrol was probably
a little different for you in terms of cooperating
with some other people. So what was that transit? Did you resist, if I told
you, go do something, did you resist it at first? Was there a transition
where you accepted that? GUILLERMO CERVERA: Oh, yeah. Yeah. At the beginning I didn’t
want to help anyone. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: I
noticed that, actually. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: No way! GUILLERMO CERVERA: I just
wanted to take pictures. I didn’t have that experience
of being protected. When I travel around,
I am by myself. And no one protects me. It’s kind of tricky. So for me, being in the patrol
was completely different. I was protected by three guys. And I felt like nothing. I don’t have anything to do. Just being here
and take pictures. It was great. It was a great feeling. Because at the
beginning I didn’t want to get involved in the
group, but after a while, I learned how to be
involved with them. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: What changed? Why did it change? When did it change? How did that work? GUILLERMO CERVERA:
Because if I don’t change, I have to keep fighting
all the time with my brain. And that’s why I had to
change and just relax. SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
How long did it take? GUILLERMO CERVERA:
It took a while. Yeah. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: One
of things I found is that when you’re actually
giving of to a group, that feels really good. I think that’s what– Team
Rubicon, where are they at? They do the same thing. They give back to America. And of course, that feels good. It feels really good. So finding something like
that to give back to, even if it’s not a
group of close friends, even if it’s your
country, that’s going to make you feel
really, really great. And I think that that’s one
of the things that saved me. Because that’s what I do. I try to give back as much as
I can to the veteran community. And that makes me feel
better about being alone inside society. GUILLERMO CERVERA:
But I think it says a lot about relationship
between men and women. That sometimes they
are keeping fighting, and they don’t
relax, because they want to keep in control
of their own lives. And not give the
control to the other. And I think that’s
a thing in the movie shows a lot about relations. CARRIE LAURENO: Brendan, I
want to really applaud you for what you just said
about giving back. Because I think the most
important leadership role that– we don’t know each
other all that well, but I feel like I know you, because
you’re a movie star. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: I’ve
never been in a movie. CARRIE LAURENO: But
I want to apply you for being so open about sharing
your story and your experiences having served in the military. The only way that
people like us, who care about veterans at
Google and other companies, are able to do our
jobs is because there are people like you who are
willing to tell your story. And you’re a really
expressive, soulful guy. And it makes all the difference
in setting a leadership example for other veterans to be able
to follow in your footsteps and share so that the
rest of us can learn. And we can heal as a community. Service members go home to
communities– communities that want to embrace them,
and don’t know how. And it’s not easy, as a
civilian, to go up to someone and say, thank you
for your service. And I know you in particular
don’t particularly like that phrase. But it’s not easy for anybody. And the work that you’re
doing is helping all of us. So I think we need to all
applaud this guy for that. [APPLAUSE] BRENDAN O’BYRNE:
Thank you very much. I think that when I
talk about my service, I talk about we’re
service members. We join the military to
serve our country, right? So when we go to war, and when
we go to combat, the things that we see and we do
there, they’re not ours. They’re not ours. They’re our country’s. So I really think
this is the only way to come home, is to
share these stories. Because it is our
country’s stories. It’s not our stories. For veterans that are, oh,
you can’t hear my story, because you won’t
understand– of course, they’re not going understand. They’re not going to
understand until we speak up and talk about this stuff. And once we start speaking
up and talk about this stuff, our country’s growing
up in two parts– it’s civilians and veterans. And if we don’t bridge that
gap, if we don’t somehow bridge that gap– 22 veterans
a day kill themselves. Why you think that is? We have to bridge that gap. The only way to bridge that gap
is to be telling our stories. And telling our
stories accurately. Not patting ourselves on the
back like these Navy SEALs do. [LAUGHTER] But just honestly. What we actually experienced. What we actually saw. The things that we experienced
over there is going to help. If we start talking to
civilians about these things, it’s going to help
the civilians, and it’s definitely
going to help us. So I put that out to
every veteran here, and every one that’s going
to serve in the military– tell your damn story. It’s not yours. It’s not yours. So open up. [APPLAUSE] CARRIE LAURENO: Awesome. We have a question over here. AUDIENCE: My first
question is for Sebastian. Did you remember to
brush your teeth today? BRENDAN O’BYRNE: It’s Vietnam. SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
I did, actually. Special event, so. AUDIENCE: My real question. It’s mentioned in
the documentary that veterans who come home from
war that have personal issues typically have those personal
issues prior to going to war. Do you think it’s those
personal issues that draw them to war to begin with? SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
That’s a good question. I know it’s been
studied, obviously. It’s not absolute correlation. But one of the indicators of
combat trauma after combat is if you’ve had personal trauma
in your life before combat. And there’s some connection. Some connection. Which is really
important to understand. The Israeli military
has a PTSD rate of 1%. And one of the reasons–
there’s a number of reasons. I think it’s a more
cohesive community. Everyone serves. Everybody serves. You don’t come back
and feel like an alien. You’re coming back
to a society that understands what you went
through, because everyone is involved in the
military to some degree. And it helps a lot. But also they screen. They screen for vulnerability
to combat trauma. And they keep people
who are vulnerable because of prior trauma, they
keep them out of those units. It’s really, really smart. So yeah, I think actually
it’s an important issue. And your first question actually
made me think of a quick story. At one point, we’d been on
the road for a good week. As you saw, we got pretty
dirty pretty quickly out there. And after like a week, we
were along the Juniata River. It was right before the
last scene in the film. And it was a nice,
warm April day. And I thought, oh, none of us
has touched a drop of water for a whole week. Maybe let’s bathe
before we end this trip. And I said, hey. I think I’m going to bathe. Jump in the river. Soap down. Rinse off. Feel good. And I said, who’s got soap? And we looked around. Four guys, right? We all know we’re
going to be out there for a good week in the woods. Not one of us even
thought to bring soap. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: And
that didn’t actually correct the problem later. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. The next trip, no one
brought soap, either. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Next
week we didn’t– No. CARRIE LAURENO: Other questions? AUDIENCE: Hey, guys. Thanks for doing this. So I wanted to ask,
actually, about the folks that you met along the way. It seemed to me that through
the first half the movie, you were asking folks,
what’s dividing us? What’s wrong with the
American identity right now? And then somewhere
along the way, it switched to what do
you love about America? Why those questions? And more so, how
do those questions connect to the veterans’
identity and the veterans’ narrative that you’re trying
to punch through here? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. It’s a good question. So what I was
thinking is that when I was with those
guys in the Korengal, they do something called
movement to contact. And they walk down a
valley in a patrol. And, basically,
contact would mean talking to people who
were willing to talk to them in the villages. Or, occasionally,
contact meant firefight. Right? But when they were
able to talk to people, basically, they’d
say, how are things? How are you doing? What’s going on? Do you need anything? Whatever. That kind of assessment
of the needs of civilians. In a very, very poor place,
it’s a smart thing to do. Hearts and minds, right? A smart idea. And I don’t know if they
got honest answers or not, but it was a good idea. So I just thought, OK. The country’s coming
out of two wars. Someone should do a movement
to contact in this country. And ask people,
how are you doing? What do you need? What are you worried about? The same kind of thing,
but in this country. It was a good idea. But the problem with it is that
I found that the answers wound up being basically soundbites
that I’d heard in the media. We’re turning into
a socialist country. Or we’ve drifted too far
away from God, or whatever. That’s just not a
helpful analysis of where we’re at as a nation. And furthermore, you’re
upset, but you’re not thinking with your own brain. You’re borrowing someone else’s
ideas and just repeating them. You’re not really thinking. I’m asking you a real question,
and you’re using someone else’s– some pundit on
TV, using their ideas. It wasn’t interesting. So I thought maybe
if I asked, what’s the best thing
about this country, no one goes on TV
to talk about what the best thing in this
country is, right? So there aren’t any
soundbites for that. CARRIE LAURENO: Apparently
you can Google it, though. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah, right. Right. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: That’s
my favorite answer. CARRIE LAURENO:
Thank you for that. SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
And so we started to get something that was
a little more interesting. There was one guy– there
were amazing people that didn’t make it into the film. And it’s the heartbreak
of making documentaries. Stuff gets left out
that just beautiful. And in Baltimore
we ran into a guy, young African American
guy– actually, young African guy who
was now American– and he’d grown up in Liberia. And I was in Liberia
during the civil war. And one of the things that
stopped that civil war was the arrival of American
forces in Monrovia– and also other African
forces in Monrovia– to enforce a peace between
the rebels and the government. And he was just a kid
when that happened, right? That was like 11 years ago. So he was a young boy. And so he had this memory
of that America had actually come to his country and done
something really, really good. And they didn’t fire
a shot, by the way. And so he had a very
positive idea of America. But then he came here, and
he was not only experiencing he was glad to be here,
but he was very, very poor. And he was an immigrant. And he was very
upset at the attitude that he was encountering
about immigrants. He’s like, look, you came to
Liberia to help my country. Now here I am. I’m trying to get an education
to do good in the world. And I’m an immigrant,
and you don’t like me. That doesn’t make sense. And he just said this
very powerful thing. He’s like, look. We’re all immigrants. Except for the American Indians,
all of us are immigrants. It’s a whole country
of immigrants. So who is it to stand up and
say that one group’s immigrants, and we’re not. It’s stupid. And so there were people
that were very, very upset about things. And he was one of the
few who really was not using soundbites. He was really using his brain. And it was incredible,
incredible moment. You remember that guy, right? Yeah. So, anyway. Long answer, but. GUILLERMO CERVERA: Yeah. But when you ask what the
best thing about America, all say freedom of
speech, or freedom. And I really don’t have
that sense of America. When you travel around,
you see what’s freedom. Here it’s freedom, but
a different freedom. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Right. Well, there’s economic
freedom, right? And political freedom. And I think we are very,
very free in this country to say what we feel. What we think. Absolutely. You can stand on a
street corner and scream that you hate the president. And most of the
countries in the world, you get put in prison for that. But not here. It’s amazing. I know a lot of people who grew
up in the Eastern Bloc, right? Those societies,
as flawed as they are in terms of
political freedom, economically, people
are way more equal. I mean the gap between
rich and poor is not large. It’s small. And so do we have
economic freedom here? A lot of us do, but
a lot of us do not. And that was not true of
the Eastern Bloc, as poor as it was. AUDIENCE: Hi. Brendan, I noticed in
a scene in the movie you had an EOD t-shirt. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: I didn’t
have any clean shirts. Dave lent it to me. So you’ve got to talk
to Dave about that. AUDIENCE: The next
round’s on you. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Yeah. AUDIENCE: This isn’t a
question, but more of a comment. I honestly, from the
bottom of my heart, and behalf of my
family and my wife, thank you for making this. Thank you for making the
films that you’ve made. Not from an
entertainment aspect, but more as perspective. There are those of us that
have experienced certain things that we might not have
the words to talk about. You mentioned, Brendan,
that this isn’t our story. You’re absolutely right. These are stories that
people here need to know. People that watch this
movie need to know. But we don’t have the words. And sometimes we don’t
have the capabilities. We’re going through our own
things, myself included. These films offer a
glimpse into our own minds. And something that I may not be
able to tell my wife that I’m going through, but she
can watch this movie. And there were certain
times during the portion of this movie that she’s
sitting there shaking her head. I think there were a couple
times where it really clicked with her. Same thing with
“Restrepo.” and I can’t thank you enough for that. It really means a lot to a lot
of people that you can do this. And we talked about
bridging the gap. You’re doing it. Thank you. SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Real fast. When Sebastian
wrote the book, one of things I first
said to him was, you’re explaining us to us. Thank you. And that’s what I told him. And it was one of
the first times that I was being
explained to me. And that’s what really helped
me get to where I am right now and be able to speak about this. Because he’s helped
me along this way. And to tell me, dude, you’re
messed up because of this. Or you’re messed up–
or not messed up. He never said that. Yeah, he implied it. For sure. Said get your life together. Why? Life is going great. But yeah. He’s explained a lot. A lot of us, he has
led the path in this. And it’s thank you
from this side, too. GUILLERMO CERVERA: And I
went to also thank you. Rudy who was there,
the cameraman– we don’t see him in the movie. But at the beginning, I was
all the time telling him, I hate this. I hate this. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: You were
complaining to the cameraman? really? GUILLERMO CERVERA: He
was really supporting me. SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
Did he hate it, too? GUILLERMO CERVERA: Yes. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: He did, right? The guys who carried the least
weight hated it the most. That’s weird. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Weird. GUILLERMO CERVERA: I know. CARRIE LAURENO: A
couple other questions. AUDIENCE: Now, just real quick. As far as being
noncombatants in that role and being combatants
in that role, despite being on American soil
and being relatively safe, like a knee-jerk
reaction– whether it be in the middle of
the night, or something like that– did you find
yourself wishing you almost had a weapon on you to
feel more comfortable, or that your combatant
had a weapon on you? Again, just whether
it be a train going by, or seeing the
helicopters in a situation like that. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Yeah. We really did get shot at once. And we were in the
middle of Pennsylvania. And it was actually outstanding. That sounded weird. AUDIENCE: It’s not that weird. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: But
we had bear mace, which is, like, bears
get stopped by that. Grizzlies. So crackheads definitely
get stopped by it. And we also had a machete. And we had a dog. So some of the close-range
stuff we weren’t really too concerned about. But when we got shot at,
it was the funniest thing. We were underneath a bridge. That’s how normally
you get shot at. You start out with being
underneath a bridge. And so we hear these two shots. And Sebastian grabs the
machete and runs off. And I run, going around
the hill to flank this guy. And I’m right up the
wall trying to see where they were
shooting us from. It was just the weirdest
thing, because I really did want a gun at that point. But I’m glad I didn’t. It would’ve been
a weird situation. Sebastian got into a firefight
in the middle of Pennsylvania. The news wouldn’t have, I don’t
think, would have liked that. But it was this reaction. Immediately. Didn’t even think about it. We didn’t talk about it. He ran just one way. I went up this way. And we’re about to
assault whatever the person was up there. And yeah. But it felt very
vulnerable at that moment, because we didn’t have weapons. And we were going
to handle whatever we were going to handle. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. We both immediately
thought– I mean, I thought– we need
to do something. We didn’t communicate, either. It was real instantaneous. But I thought, we’ve
got to do the thing that this guy least
expects us to do. And for Brendan, that meant
climbing this rock wall. It’s about 15 feet high. And peeking over the edge of it. And for me, it meant
grabbing the machete and trying to run around
so I could get behind him. And so deal with him that way. And it was instantaneous. But what motivated me,
and, I think, Brendan, was just I was
absolutely indignant that someone would try
to harm these guys. It was such an
instantaneous reaction. And it was the only moment,
I think, on the patrol that I felt a little
Afghan, or something. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Yeah. It was cool. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: It was cool. The footage wasn’t good
enough to put it in the film, so we had to leave
it as a story. Yeah? AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: No, no. He stopped shooting. He just fired a few rounds. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: The
Amish mafia, definitely. It was the Amish mafia. They got us. CARRIE LAURENO: Yes. Go ahead. Front row. Ma’am? Hi. Yes. AUDIENCE: You talked a
lot about relationships you have with your wives. Or, Brendan, your wife. [INAUDIBLE] women? Sorry. You talked about
the relationships you had with your fathers. That came up. But I never heard you say
anything about your mothers. Did you discuss the relationship
you had with your mothers? And did you edit that out? Or was it just something
that never really was important enough to have– SEBASTIAN JUNGER: I know
this is going to sound weird, because we walked
350 miles together, but I don’t think any
of us ever mentioned either the marriages we
were in or our mothers. I don’t know why. Did we? Did we talk about
the relationships– BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Only
when we were asked, like, what does your
wife do for you? And I’m like, she
keeps me in line. That was the only time that– SEBASTIAN JUNGER: No,
the question there was what do you like
best about women? Is actually what
the question was. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Oh. CARRIE LAURENO: Guillermo, yeah. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: So that was the
only time I brought up my wife. SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
Guillermo said, everything. CARRIE LAURENO:
Everything, yeah, right. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Is that a
good answer or a bad answer, by the way. As a woman, what would you say? AUDIENCE: I don’t know. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: I think
what Sebastian wanted to do, for a man, it’s the relationship
with his father’s important. And what he becomes in life. And also with the
mother, of course. But I think we wanted to
talk about our fathers, only because it
affected us greatly. And my dad had a
huge effect on me. My mom had a huge
effect on me, too. But my dad shot me. So it was a little bit of a
different impact on my life. And I think that that was the
same thing with Sebastian. Sebastian had a
tough relationship. And Guillermo also had a
pretty tough relationship with his father. So I think those things–
our mothers were much– AUDIENCE: Nicer? BRENDAN O’BYRNE:
Sometimes, yeah. GUILLERMO CERVERA: Yeah. Your mother is always with you. For me, my mother is an angel. And she died three years? Two years before the patrol. And she was always there. So I didn’t have
to talk about her. Yeah. CARRIE LAURENO: Microphone? AUDIENCE: Really
enjoyed the movie. Thank you so much
for doing that. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Thank you. AUDIENCE: But the timing
with the last question. So I actually had two questions. But my first one is
what about the role of women in the military
in light of your movie, in light of the reflections
you just talked about? What about in the
case of America, women entering the tip
of the spear combat arms– infantry and
armor– starting in 2016. What is the message
that you have for the American population? And service members
that are women that might want to enter the
combat arms tip of the spear roles? And my second question. The only establishment
that we saw you ever enter throughout the whole
journey was a church. Why is that? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: I mean,
we would go into diners and have a meal or
whatever sometimes. It just wasn’t always
that interesting. Churches were interesting to me. A, and particularly for me as
an atheist– well, you saw. I really had never
been to church. So I was sort of
fascinated by them. On to the incredibly complicated
question, your first question. I feel like the army
has figured out how to turn front-line
soldiers, how to turn young people into ideal
front-line soldiers, right? But where their chances
of survival are maximized. And I think for women
to be in that position, they have to turn into
the exact same thing. And so I think anyone has to
turn into the exact same thing. I’m a civilian, right? I had to sort of turn into that. I just didn’t have a gun. I think in some ways
if women can learn– and obviously,
they can– if they can learn to think and
react and act exactly like men in that
situation, they’ll be fine. AUDIENCE: Brendan, I just
wanted to add something to what the gentleman said
over there about the EOD joke, about the t-shirt. I’m a Marine vet. Please don’t, like– I know
I’m surrounded by soldiers, so I’ll watch what I say. BRENDAN O’BYRNE:
You’re outnumbered. AUDIENCE: You’re not
just bridging a gap. You’re not just
telling your story. You’re saving lives. The stuff you guys went
through over there. I can’t remember what I did with
my Marines because of my TBI. And Marines don’t usually
get this emotional. I’m sorry. But watching “Restrepo”
and “Korengal” reminds me of what I lost. And when I want to end it
all, that’s what I watch. So thank you. Thank you from the bottom
of my fucking heart. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Thank you, man. Thank you. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] CARRIE LAURENO: One last
question, if there is one. AUDIENCE: I want to how
we can help– Brendan, maybe you can answer this
question– when you come back. I work for the VA. And what I see– this is
my personal experience– is that we want to help, but
the veteran says they want help, and they already don’t follow
through with the action that we can offer. Not all veterans. I’m not saying that
every single veteran. But some isolate themselves. We call them. We want them to come in. We even have programs where
we actually go to their house. What can, not the
VA, but anybody, do to a veteran who’s
trying to seek assistance? Or even if they’re not
trying to seek assistance, what can somebody do? BRENDAN O’BYRNE: That’s a
really awesome question. And I’ve given that
a lot of thought. There’s a lot of things. I’m an alcoholic, you know. And I go to AA every
single morning. Because if I don’t
go to AA, I drink. And alcoholism, you
can’t have willpower. It’s not willpower. It’s not anything that
saves you from alcoholism. It’s talking with
other alcoholics on how they got sober. And something happens inside of
AA that keeps me from drinking. I’ve had a year. I haven’t had a year
since I was fucking 12. [APPLAUSE] Not even in combat. So something works inside AA. And I think– not comparing
alcoholism to veterans, but– when you’re talking
about serving in combat, I think the most important
thing is, when you come home, is meeting up with
other veterans. Other veterans. I’m never going to get
better from alcoholism by seeking a shrink. That’s not going to help me. What’s going to help me is
talking with other alcoholics. Same thing with veterans. Veterans aren’t going
to have– there’s going to be certain things
that you can get from a shrink, but the real healing is
talking with another veteran. Saying, hey, what do
you feel about this? And getting that honest answer. I think that is what’s going
to save a lot of lives. And VA needs to start
setting that up. Not even a counselor
inside that setting. Just letting a
veteran run group. Be a veteran-run group. Those are really
important things. And then there’s also
things like Outward Bound for veterans. Outward Bound for veterans. Has anyone heard of that? It’s an extremely
cool organization. And you go a week-long
trip with other veterans. And you get to go sailing. You get to go hiking. You get to dog sled, if
you want to dog sled. You get to white water rafting. We went on white water rafting,
me and 15 of my buddies I served with. And that was so good for me. And it’s completely
free for the veteran through donations
the country gives. So if you donate to this,
you’re giving back to veterans. And it’s just this
really great program. So I think things like that are
going to help get veterans home and to connect with
other veterans. I think that’s the key. I think that’s what’s
going to save lives. It’s not going to
be what the VA does. It’s going to be what veterans
are doing for each other. If I saw– and I
don’t care if it was a person I didn’t know–
if there was a soldier wounded in front of me,
inside combat, I would go in the middle of
firefight and try to pull that person out. Because that’s
what you do, right? So when you have someone
inside your community that’s a veteran that’s
having a hard time, and you’re a veteran, reach out. You would be doing it in combat,
so what’s the difference here in the United States? There’s no difference. So I think that
that reaching out is going to be the key
to saving veterans. CARRIE LAURENO: What does that
mean for civilians, right, like this gentleman and
myself, and others who are here tonight, who want to do
something to help and make it better? What role can we play? BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Supporting
that stuff I’m talking about. CARRIE LAURENO:
That environment. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Yeah. CARRIE LAURENO: Where you
guys can come together. BRENDAN O’BYRNE:
Because you’re not going to– civilians,
as much as you’re going to do to help
welcome us home, you’re not going to help
us with the deep trauma. Deep trauma, you’re going to
talk with other veterans about. I could talk to
you all day about how it felt to lose Restrepo. But until I talk to another
veteran that has lost his best friend, it’s not
going to matter. It’s going to matter. It’s going to feel
great to talk about it. But that understanding
is what’s key. Understanding and
being understood is what’s healing
about with trauma. CARRIE LAURENO: Which is why
the last patrol was helpful. GUILLERMO CERVERA: That
sharing with the people who have the same problem. Exactly what he had said. CARRIE LAURENO: Are you
going to do it again? BRENDAN O’BYRNE:
We keep doing it. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: We can’t stop. We keep going out there. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: We’re just
not filming it any more. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Now we
bring– there’ no camera and there’s no funding,
but we just keep going. CARRIE LAURENO: Can girls come? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. We brought a woman. CARRIE LAURENO: Oh, you did. I have two final– SEBASTIAN JUNGER: And
she brought the soap. Finally we had soap on a patrol. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: I had this
one real funny thing real fast. We were walking down the–
this is the funniest story. We were walking
down in Wilmington, and we’re getting into
the middle of the city. And this car pulls up. And this guy looks
out of the window. And he’s like, hey,
what are you guys doing? We’re like, oh,
we’re walking to– SEBASTIAN JUNGER: He’s
with his girlfriend. He’s with his girlfriend. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Yeah. He’s with his girlfriend. And she’s driving. And he’s in the passenger seat. And we’re like, yeah, we’re
walking to– at that point, we were walking
to New York still. I was like, do you want to come? And he didn’t have anything. He didn’t have a
backpack, nothing. And he starts getting
out of the car. The girlfriend
pulls him back in. So it’s appealing, I
think, to a lot of people. CARRIE LAURENO: I have
two final questions. Brendan, you had something,
a piece of advice to share with the
cadets as they embark on their military careers. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Yes, yes. One second. [INAUDIBLE] Yes. Money. That will help. I know there’s a few
things that my leaders did that made them successful. And one of the main things
that my lieutenants did that was really
successful was that they listened to their sergeants. And I know that that’s
drilled into cadets and drilled into cadets,
but it’s so important. So when you go out
into your units, listen to your sergeants. They know what to do. They will help you. They will be the ones
that let you succeed. And also, the more I see
the army and the military, I think it’s the more
it’s becoming political. And it kind of upsets me. And sometimes lieutenants
and leaders sometimes make the decision
best for their career rather than for their soldiers. And I think it’s very
important to realize that true leadership means
that you put yourself second. You put everything in your life
second to your men or women. And that is what leadership is. So when you’re put in a
situation where it’s hard, and you figure, what’s
the right answer? It’s always going to be
soldiers underneath you, or the people underneath you. What is the best thing for them? I wish I could say
that to the president. I wish I could say that to
every leader in the world. Because true leadership means
putting yourself second. So that’s the two things
I really, really wanted to talk to you about. CARRIE LAURENO: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] As sad as it is, the
reason that the four of us are actually on
the stage tonight is because we are united
by the death of our friends or the trauma of
combat, and how it’s affected us in different ways. And as you know, I lost
a loved one to the war in Afghanistan, which is how
I got involved in supporting this community,
when I previously had no ties whatsoever. You lost a friend. You guys deployed together,
were embedded together. You lost a very close
friend, and then met Sebastian, who was
so close with Tim. And Sebastian loves you for
being the person you are and the person
you were with him, you must have been in that
moment when he passed. So these silver linings
become very, very clear and bright to me– that
the reason all of us there are here tonight having
this wonderful experience ahead of Veterans’ Day at
Google is because of those traumatic and
difficult situations. And so I just wanted
to close by asking about Tim Hetherington,
your dear friend. And all three of you
knew him and loved him. The last time I was on
this stage with Sebastian was when we screened
“Restrepo” here. And Tim was in one of
these chairs right here. And I wonder what he would say. What would he think about
tonight and this conversation? And what would he say? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: I
think about that a lot. I went on to make a film about
him and his death and his work. And then I went back into
the “Restrepo” material and made “Korengal.” And I had him in my mind. He shot a lot of that
footage, obviously. And “The Last Patrol,”
it happened in the form that it did partly because he
was alive, and we were friends, and we had ideas together. And one of the
ideas that popped up within our professional
relationship was this idea. But it took this
form because he died, and I was with these other guys. And I just have to
think that he would be tremendous– If he
somehow could know, right, somehow know that
this trip happened as it did, and this evening was happening,
he’d be a little puzzled. But I have to think he
would be really incredibly affected by it. We’re all affecting– all of
us, with or without our deaths– we’re all affecting so
many people all the time. Hopefully in pretty good ways. And there aren’t
many good things that come from people’s deaths. Obviously, we all know that. But this is, I think,
maybe one of the very most powerful things that
I’ve ever seen personally come from a tragedy, was this
experience the four of us. And it’s weird. You don’t even know what to
be grateful for, grateful to. But it’s tremendous, I think. CARRIE LAURENO: Guillermo? GUILLERMO CERVERA: Well,
I met Tim in Libya. I was not really
good friend of him. And I met him there. But we become, like, tight. These few days together. And I remember when he
died, a rebel leader who was in the house where we were
staying, he say, many times, this guy was a gentleman. This guy was a gentleman. And he was a gentleman. He act like a gentleman. He was a really nice person. You could see him
deal with the people. He was a nice guy. I don’t know how he will have
felt in front of America. But, of course, he will
have made amazing pictures. I know. Because America
is a place to get pictures, to get feelings,
to get a lot of things out, good and bad. And when I finished my work
of America with pictures, I was really surprised, because
it’s one of my best works in all my career. Even I was in Afghanistan,
all these crazy places. The work I can see
more feelings is the one I made here in America. So I’m sure Tim will have
done something similar. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: When I
first got home, like I said, I was a really bad place. I was trying to get sober. And I was trying to get help. Tim offered up his place
for me in Brooklyn. And he said, the one thing
that I want you to do is not to drink. And within a week, I was drunk. And I realized at that moment
that I really cared for Tim, and I couldn’t even hold
that promise up to Tim. And it was like
the first sign that to me, my whole entire
life falling apart, that I had a serious
alcohol problem. And I don’t know how he
would feel about the film. But I know he would look at
me and say, right on, man. You got a year. Awesome. And I think that he’d
be very proud of us for doing what we did. CARRIE LAURENO: Thank you for
sharing about your friend. This is wonderful. I’ve dad said it to
you a hundred times, but I’m so grateful to you. We’re all so grateful to
you for the work you’re doing to help us get
these stories out as well. And for the healing
that it’s given to all of us who are
touched by any trauma that we’ve been
through, whether we’ve gone to war or otherwise,
being able to talk about it and share it with other people. And the example that you
are setting by doing that is a true form of leadership. And we’re very, very
grateful to all of you. Thank you for
being here tonight. All of you. We wish you a happy
early Veterans’ Day. Please come back and visit
us at Google at any time. We love you guys. We love you gals. And we’re here to help,
whether we served or not. There’s a whole bunch of us who
have and a whole bunch of us who haven’t. But we’re figuring
it out together. And you’re welcome
here any time. Thanks, everybody. SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
Thank you everybody. BRENDAN O’BYRNE: Thank you.

12 Comments

  • Reply Rodney Lockwood December 15, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    It is good that they capture the experience of coming home for veterans and the struggle of trying to assimilate back into society. For me, the hardest part was not being in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather the bigger struggle was coming back home. 

    From 2006 to 2010 I served in combat every one of those years, so when they decided to downsize the Marine Corps I was let go, thus taking away my power base of my brothers that served with me during that time. I was at a loss, because being with them was very therapeutic for me. A part of me wanted to stay in because they were there, and another part of me wanted to get out because I didn't want my combat experiences to be the sole defining portion of my life. Most days after getting out I would lock myself indoors staring at the world outside. I did everything from changing my appearance to how I acted to hide the fact that I was even in the service. If I was out, I would put a brave face on, but I was still there. My destructiveness was not from turning to drugs or alcohol, rather it was from me hiding myself from society. Only close friends and family knew that I was in, but they don't and probably won't know the whole story of being in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was at a loss.

    Lately seeing how America takes on issues made me change the way I saw myself. We treat America as one big soap opera and tend to focus on problems rather than solutions. Around late 2013 my life had come to a full circle, I began to focus on solutions. The solution for me was to ask myself what I was passionate about, what was my driving force in life, and why did it have to leave. That passion and driving force in my life is helping those in need. It is the reason why I joined the Marine Corps. Whether it be a smile, a hello, to helping the homeless in my community helped put that purpose back in my life.  

    Guillermo Cervera has it right. Americans are more individualistic rather than collectivist which is why there is a struggle with returning vets. The military is a collectivist society. We eat, sleep, work, fight, sweat, bleed, cry, and have lived with the most primitive of needs together with the one common goal; the survival of the pack. When we see Americans with a "what's in it for me" mentality it pushes us back with no relation to our society and trying to live those collectivist ideals we have learned in combat.

    22 veterans are committing suicide each day. Out of a population of roughly 314 million Americans in which around .005% or roughly 1.6 million who are veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan makes this suicide rate a tragedy and an epidemic. Getting the word out with documentaries like these will help Americans see. Most of us who have served are not looking for a thank you or any sympathy, rather it is the understanding that counts.

    Thank you to Brendan O'Byrne, Guillermo Cervera, Sebastian Junger, and the production crew on getting the word out and making the picture a bit more clearer.          

  • Reply Jersey Native February 3, 2015 at 2:44 am

    Amazing interview at times I wanted to cry.our warriors are so young yet they fight and kill on behalf of the country and her citizens I'm forever grateful!! Thank you

  • Reply nancy miner January 1, 2016 at 4:26 am

    BRING OUR MEN HOME!!!!!!!!
    If you really believe there is threat to America!!! Come home!!
    This interview reminds me of a fat girl with three men that did what? Well, he wrote a book, to the uneducated, that's a piece of cake, sell it at the box office, again, that's a piece of shit…..let's see if he's honest, even money say's he's not!

  • Reply nancy miner January 1, 2016 at 4:27 am

    I wonder how much he was paid???

  • Reply nancy miner January 1, 2016 at 4:28 am

    If I find out you are social with Trump I will not vote for him

  • Reply Terenig Topjian May 20, 2016 at 12:10 am

    Fantastic conversation

  • Reply Alex Harmon February 7, 2017 at 4:56 am

    I have watched hours of Ted talks and heard many vets talk in person, this to me is one of the best discussions

  • Reply spiffinz April 18, 2018 at 9:40 am

    "Veterans network" or not, google are a bunch of unamerican virtue signaling social justice fucks

  • Reply Delroy Washington May 25, 2018 at 3:45 am

    The last Patrol ! It saves lives , or saved lives , this should be show in schools , prisons , any where to teach , thanks guys !

  • Reply Delroy Washington May 26, 2018 at 2:12 am

    Watched again , reveals better stuff , more therpy , 3 in the morning !

  • Reply Delroy Washington May 26, 2018 at 2:37 am

    Daisy with the a stick snow on the ground , just woke up , WOTS THE STUPID JACKET , DAISY YOU LOOK LIKE OLD WOMEN BANDY LEGS , LOL , that was funny DAISY , YOU A STAR ,

  • Reply Vodkacannon September 27, 2018 at 10:45 am

    If you want society to be more collectivist, you have to put pressure on employees. It has to be like that regimented millitary life

  • Leave a Reply