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Iraq war vets describe life after the conflict

As part of the special series "Coming Home," "Today" spoke with service members and their families about life after the Iraq war.
/ Source: TODAY

Nearly two years into the Iraq war, more than 1,000 U.S. service men and women have been killed and more than 10,000 wounded. Those with no physical wounds often come home bearing other scars of war. Is America doing enough for its troops after they return? In the first part of a three-day series, "Today" spoke with veterans and their families about the frustration of getting benefits, the medical care they received and their readjustment to life after the war.

Pfc. Nicole Goodwin, unit supply specialist and single mother with post-traumatic stress disorder:
The insanity of the war haunts you for the rest of your life, and the living sometimes aren’t the lucky ones. They are the ones that are dying slower than others.

I am still going through the process of filing claims. There are a lot of procedures and red tape — the biggest thing we don't have is time to hear "six weeks," or "six months" or even "six minutes."

You have to wonder what I was fighting for, if this came down to freedom. My personal freedom or my child's? I would have just left the military, got a job, got an apartment and been happy.

Ryan Kelly, 24, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, married. His right leg was blown off in an ambush:I was wounded on July 14, 2003, by a roadside bomb, south of the city of Baghdad. Three artillery shells were daisy-chained on the side of the road and detonated by insurgents as I passed by. A piece of shrapnel severed my right leg below the knee.

I can't say enough good things about my medical care. It's insane to make somebody who's sustained a disability injury in the service of their nation fight two bureaucracies to get the treatment, care and support they need.

I'm taking advantage of some of the great VA education benefits. I'm just trying to make the most of this and turn lemons into lemonade. My wife and I are looking forward to a happy life together.

He didn't get the help he needed. We tried as a family, but he fell through the cracks.

You can't expect the soldiers to meet the needs of the system. The system needs to meet the needs of the soldiers.

I don't know even how I deal with it sometimes. I don't even know how I've made it this far sometimes. It's so hard.

I think there should be a lot more programs where soldiers can go and talk to other soldiers.

If I had a dream, it'd probably be to run again.

I have a wife and two kids that I'm here for, and I was blessed with the opportunity to make it back.

Abagail, Jackson's wife: My life, the girls' life, is not for the bad. It's for the better. You have to be willing to accept change and just go with it.