During the last months of the Iraq War, radio host Jake Wood was working for Veterans for Common Sense, a nonprofit founded by U.S. Rep. Jim Moran. It was among the more ardent organizations in his line of work. The group would get as close as it could to the truth of the wars and the people fighting them. The group also succeeded in making sure that the troops had as good a life back home as they did abroad.
Wood, now 30, also earned credibility among his peers. He was loud and brash and in shape for someone his age. He enjoyed speaking his mind. “I’m going to be the next Mike Pence,” he proclaimed to a crowd at a conference hosted by a rival group. The remark will forever remain etched in his memory.
It was in Iraq that Wood saw the most action in his career. Like most of the troops, he had suffered war wounds — he’d been hit by a rocket in 2005 and was also missing both his legs, which have since been amputated.
As his time in Iraq wound down, Wood came home to be a keynote speaker at a security conference in Boston. The talk was titled “Walking Through The Aftermath: Surviving and Moving On from War.” In his role as a radio personality, Wood had often made snarky jokes about not attending Harvard University, but at the time, he’d not been one to engage in politics in public.
Later that day, Wood felt a growing sense of unease. Afterward, he had said he wanted to have his own talk, but he felt uneasy about what he might say. Friends in the security community asked him to elaborate.
“The most fundamental question I still have about all of this is: Was I better off in Iraq?” he recalled thinking during that conference, on June 7, 2010. “Was I killing two birds with one stone? Was I spending time helping my buddies, helping people develop skills, helping in a way that I could — I could get myself out of Iraq and contribute back at a different level?”
To read more about Wood’s life and career, click here.
Follow Jake on Twitter @joshwoodlife.