What They Signed Up For Reading

In What They Signed Up For, eighteen American veterans tell their stories of going to war and life after they came home. In the cities of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, they witnessed the carnage of IEDs and survived daily mortar attacks. They put friends into body bags and saw others grievously wounded. But for many combat veterans, the war didn’t end when they took off their uniform. The invisible wounds of war run deeper, and are more painful, than America wants to know. The cost of war continues back home.

Joe Stone, Sr. was deployed in Operations Bright Star (Egypt, 1999), Enduring Freedom (Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 2002), Iraqi Freedom (Rustamiyah, Iraq, 2004 & 2008-09), and Enduring Freedom (Naray, Afghanistan, 2006-07). He is now a full-time student at the Academy of Art University, a small business owner, and freelance photographer.

Brandon Mitalas was deployed to Iraq with Alpha Company 4th landing support battalion out of Fort Lewis, Washington from September 2004 to March 2005. He was sent to Kuwait City shortly after arriving.  His mission was to manage all of the ground logistics at the largest airport in the combat theater, and the most critical piece of his mission was to carry the remains of all the Marines and sailors killed in combat to send them home to their loved ones for burial. Since retiring from the army, he has been coaching soccer at the youth, college, and semi-professional levels. He has just started a new career in sales but plans on continue coaching youth soccer for as long as he can. Heis also in the process of writing his own autobiography, with the support of Blue Ear Books and Jeb Wyman.

Mike Farnum is a Sergeant First Class, and served 23 years (1984-2007) in the United States Army Cavalry (MOS 19D4X, D3, C2, 2S.) In civilian language that is a Cavalry Scout, Platoon Sergeant, and Drill Sergeant, with additional skill identifiers of Bradley gunner/crewman, Javelin and TOWII Missile Gunner, and Battle Staff Operations Sergeant. His duty assignments included Germany, Korea and Honduras as well as combat assignments including the first Gulf War in 1990-91 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003-04 with the first ever Stryker Brigade Combat team out of JBLM. He is the Director of Military Outreach for Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma Washington and works closely with veterans and their families as they seek the path of higher education. He enjoys kayaking, hiking, camping with his family and playing with his WWII Army jeep. He lives in Graham, Washington with his wife and daughter.

Dennis Eller grew up on a farm in Oklahoma just outside of Tahlequah and moved to Whidbey Island at 15. He has done two enlistments -- 1993-1998 as a Private through Sergant in the Infantry and 2002-2010 as an Infantry and Special Operations Officer. He was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq (June 2004- June 2005), Trans Shahel Africa (2007-2008, Special Operations), and Nigeria (2008-2009, Special Operations Command and Control Element). He is currently a science teacher in Tacoma and enjoys climbing mountains in his spare time.