December 12th, 2008
08:12 AM ET

I don't know how to come home

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/WORLD/meast/05/17/btsc.ware/art.michael.ware.jpg caption="CNN's Michael Ware"]
Greg Veis
Men's Journal

“I am not the same fucking person,” he tells me. “I am not the same person. I don’t know how to come home.”

It’s October, six months after our first meeting, and Michael Ware, 39, is at his girlfriend’s apartment in New York, trying to tell me why after six years he absolutely must start spending less time in Iraq. He’s crying on the other end of the telephone.

“Will I get any better?” he continues. “I honestly don’t know. I can’t see the — right now, I know no other way to live.”

To begin to understand where he’s coming from, Ware wants you to see a movie. He filmed it. It’s just after midnight during the second battle of Fallujah, November 2004. The marine unit he’s hooked up with has cornered six insurgents inside a house, and with no air support available, the only way to take them out is person-to-person. Staff Sergeant David Bellavia doesn’t like the sound of that — odds are one of his men, or he, will die in the pitch-black of an unfamiliar house — but he knows he can’t just let these guys go. So he asks for volunteers to go with him: Three men raise their hands, followed by Ware, who as a reporter (then for Time, now for CNN) is the only one without a gun or night goggles, and still can’t explain why he went along. He just couldn’t not.


Filed under: Greg Veis • Iraq • Michael Ware
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Melissa, Los Angeles

    After reading that article I'm deeply saddened for Michael Ware, our soldiers and all the civilians that are in this war. I believe we should all see the footage he's filmed in a theater. What is read or heard cannot compare to actually being there but his footage will bring those of us that much closer to what war really is like. I cannot imagine the feelings that go through our soldiers much less understand how hard it is for them to come back into civilian life after witnessing and being a part of what they have – I wonder if I could adjust if I were in their shoes. To watch another person die without feeling is horrifying yet understandable after all they've gone through. I'm disappointed that CNN did not air that footage. We can no longer hide under the cover that all is well in Iraq. Our soldiers are being damaged and we need to see what they're going through to help them come back into civilian life with as much support as possible.

    December 12, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  2. earle,florida

    I wish you all the success,and happiness that life can bestow on a individual with unimaginable selflessness for his love of justice for all "Mankind"! God Bless you Mr. Michael Ware,....

    December 12, 2008 at 1:12 pm |
  3. SJanes

    This is a great piece. Keep 'em coming!

    December 12, 2008 at 12:02 pm |
  4. Martina Ilstad Germany

    Hey Micheal
    All my respect for you,to worked in this verry dangers area.You did jour job in a verry fair way.Telling facts,but thry to be honest to yourself.
    But know its time to come back in the real life.Some people or incidents you will never forget,and that is good,because it will be a part of you, for the rest of your life.There is a silent pact between people who survive tragedies.Learn to be home by yourself

    December 12, 2008 at 11:57 am |
  5. Heather,ca

    Michael is what many in the great tradition of wartime reporting do and are. He gained the respect of the soldiers he was reporting on. He determination to remain authentic follows a great tradition of reporters of past. He has their respect and he has integrity. He is also going through the very same psychological traumas that all the soldiers are going through. Michael is special . He is honest and selfless and willing to give his life for someone else. Michael is very lucky, he is admired by soldiers. I have always known that he would be nothing but honest with us. Even know he is. We know what war does to people. Im not talking about being for against a particular war. Just in general. Its ok and its scary. I hope Michael is given all the time he needs and all the help he needs. After all he has given he deserves and is entitled to take time for himself.

    As serious and as intense as Michael is, I remember reading on a blog about someone nearby watching Michael when he came to DC to watch the hearings about Iraq and Michael was observed from the observation room sleeping. He later said he couldnt wait to get back to Iraq. Well you dont have to be a reporter or a soldier to appreciate that. CNN is lucky to have him. There is never anything glamorous about war and Michael has always shown us that. Thank you Michael.

    December 12, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  6. Jennifer in DC

    Ya know Micheal... I was wondering about that. How do you stay for so long, but then if you do, how do you come back? After everything you've seen and lived with and through, how do you redefine what normal is? I can only give you two pieces of advice:

    1) Take it slow, day by day. Don't expect to be able to switch over just like that.

    2) Ask Anderson.

    December 12, 2008 at 10:58 am |
  7. Jay-R

    You have done an outstanding job showing the worldwhat is going on in the Middle East/ World.

    Soldier, it's time for you to come on home and spend some quality time with your loved ones.

    Happy holidays and thank you for the "truth" in all of your documentaries.

    December 12, 2008 at 10:12 am |
  8. Annie Kate

    I have always admired Michael Ware's work – he has told the facts of the war as he saw them despite what "official" word was being put out by the military. His work has been superb and he has been a treasure of information for CNN and its viewers. It appears though that Michael's efforts have cost him dearly and that he may be suffering from PTSD. I hope that he will get the treatment he needs to learn to cope with what he has seen and experienced. This interview he gave sounds like a cry for help. I certainly hope someone answers it.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    December 12, 2008 at 9:34 am |
  9. Bev

    I love Michael Ware. He so obviously cares for the people he reports about. I look forward to watching his reports. I wish you well Michael. Please seek professional help. It works. God Bless you and God Bless our soldiers, sailors and Marines!!

    Bev . . . an Army brat

    December 12, 2008 at 9:13 am |
  10. Sandra Robertson, Ga

    Thank you Michael Ware for giving us insight into the unsightly. You are among many great CNN reporters who risk their lives not only in wartime, but also in poverty and disease-stricken countries. You are among the best and the brave.

    December 12, 2008 at 8:57 am |
  11. Cindy

    I read this article yesterday and I really loved it. Who knew that Mic was such a complex man with some serious wounds? While I will miss seeing Mic in Iraq, from what he is saying here I do think that he needs to take some time off from it to try to get back to a normal place in his life. But I hope that CNN will still have him on a lot because he is one of the best that you have!!


    December 12, 2008 at 8:31 am |

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