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Iraq veteran speaks on 10-year anniversary

Published On: Mar 21 2013 02:15:35 AM CDT
SPOKANE, Wash. -

This week marks 10 years since the beginning of the Iraq war, and the beginning of a era that forever changed the lives of millions of people around the world.

Jared Hodl is one of those people.

"I just want to, on this anniversary, remind people, give people a different view of what had happened," Hodl said.

In March 2003, Hodl was a junior at Ferris High School. 

"And I went straight home after school to turn on the news to see what was going," he added

Shortly after graduation Hodl signed up for the Marines.  The all-star athlete said he joined the Marines because he felt the urge to help free Iraqi women and children under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

"Personally I saw a lot of good things happen.  A lot of people benefit from us being there," he said.

Hodl is most proud of his part in Operation Squeeze Play, which took place in Ramadi, Iraq.

"People we were fighting yesterday or a week ago or even four years ago in the first battle of Ramadi- 2004 at the time, came up to us, knocked on our gates and said 'hey we want to help you,'" he said.

"Their schools were no longer torture chambers, families started opening up their markets again, people could walk outside," Hodl added.

Hodl's tour in Iraq was cut short when he severely injured his knee and was airlifted home in 2007.  Hodl now suffers with PTSD, but it does not define him.

"What I deal with now is a price that I accept for what I did.  And I'm just glad to be here to have a family, to have a wife, to live," he added.  

Hodl says the war has changed him for the better and the worse.  Hodl now suffers with PTSD, but it does not define him.  The war has taught him to be grateful for everything in life and to stay positive no matter how difficult things may be.

"I don't want to be another statistic.  I've had ample friends become that statistic to suicide, they had families, some had family and kids, but I don't want to go that way and I'm not going to let myself go that way," Hodl said.

Hodl hopes on this anniversary people can put politics aside and remember the soldiers who are no longer with us.

"The most important thing I think is to remember those that have passed away. that have given up their loves for freedom," he added.

According to ABC News,  4,488 U.S. soldiers were killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and left 32,226 soldiers wounded.