Wednesday, March 19 marked the beginning of the sixth year since the U.S. occupation began in Iraq. Over the course of his time there have been close to one million Iraqi and about 4,000 U.S. service personnel killed.
This unpopular war anniversary is bringing over 30 different peace and justice organizations together to act in a nonviolent way to protest against the “Pillars of War” that uphold the U.S. occupation in Iraq.
On Nov. 13, 2006, Cabrini College alumnus, Michael Stevens, set off for U.S. Marine Corps recruitment training at Parris Island, S.C. After graduating from Cabrini, Stevens entered the work field like any other college graduate, but still felt like he could do more.
“My expectations for joining the military were to become part of an organization that has had a storied and honorable history,” Stevens said. “After college you hit a moment when you realize you need to do something to benefit your life in the long run.”
It has been several months since Stevens left to further his career in the Marines in Iraq. Stevens is stationed in the al-Anbar province of Iraq where he works as a combat correspondent. As a combat correspondent for the Marines,
Stevens is responsible for releasing timely news information to the military public, retired service members, military families, external audiences as well as local and national news.
While reporting in Anbar province, Stevens and the country have seen a huge difference compared to two and three years ago.
“The Anbar province was a hotbed for insurgent activities. It’s astonishing to see the improvements made in this region throughout the course of the war,” Stevens said.
The most important and by far the most remarkable improvement is in the confidence level in the Iraqi Army and the police according to Stevens. Stevens is responsible for reporting on these improvements.
“Marine corps combat correspondents are not responsible for shaping the civilian media’s reporting. Our job is to work with the civilian media to release accurate information,” Stevens said. This goes for reporting on Anbar province.
Stevens has reported on many other stories aside from the Anbar improvements. “Al Asad Air Base is a mix of all branches of the military. Because of this, I’ve had the opportunity to write some pieces on the joint-service operations we are able to partake in,” Stevens said.
Stevens also had the opportunity to write stories on the Army medical company that serves as the “air ambulance” for the area of operation he is currently working.
“The greatest feature about my job is being able to experience all the different facets the Marine Corps has to offer,” Stevens said. “The brilliance of my job is that I am able to go out and experience someone else’s job for the day, take pictures and learn about what they do and then write about it for the rest of the Marine Corps to read and learn.”
As for the five year anniversary, Stevens feels that the improvements he has seen in his time there are huge.
“To see the improvements and to personally see the faces on the Iraqi civilians I have met, and to be welcomed openly, it’s one of the greatest and most accomplished things I’ve ever felt since I enlisted,” Stevens said. “I didn’t do anything myself, but knowing that I’m part of an organization that did so makes me proud.”