Peter Neiger reflects on his joining the U.S. Military immediately following 9/11, his tours in Afghanistan & Iraq, and how his expiriences transformed him to believe that the U.S. should adopt a non-interventionalist foreign policy:
As thetenth anniversary for the defining day of my generation comes upon us, it feels necessary for me to reflect on both the event itself and how we, as a nation, have responded to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The events of that day certainly had an effect on everyone in one way or another, but the degree of influence varies dramatically. Those who lost loved ones felt the sting of how violent and misguided humans can be in a way that I can never truly comprehend, and the pain from that day lives on in their memories and the repercussions that play out in their daily lives. While I did not feel the personal loss that many had, 9/11 was still a day that redirected my life.
After the second tower fell and the magnitude of what happened was only beginning to be realized, I walked into the U.S. Army Recruiter’s office in Gresham, Oregon. Coming from a conservative Christian background it seemed natural to rise up to defend my nation, one that I felt at the time had been attacked without cause. Vengeance was on my mind and in my heart. My family did not encourage or discourage my decision. They supported it but wanted to make sure that I did not feel pressure from them to serve or not. In retrospect, my parents handled it in the best possible way. Without their support and love, the next few years of my life would have been unbearable.
I volunteered to serve in an Airborne Infantry unit and was soon whisked off to boot camp, advanced training, and airborne school. When I got to my unit, I discovered I was going to get exactly what I wanted at the time. I was going to war. We were slotted to deploy to Afghanistan in early 2003. My unit deployed as scheduled and spent a lot of time in a variety of different areas of Afghanistan. Being an infantry unit, there were many times when we made the initial contact with tribes throughout the region, a duty that is potentially dangerous but provides an interesting perspective on war.