In September 2008, Ricky Raley was nearing the end of his first deployment in Iraq with the Army National Guard. He had formed a close bond with the other members of his unit – a bond that can be difficult for us civilians to understand. The men and women you serve with in combat experience some of the most extreme moments of fear, sadness, joy, and camaraderie. In the moments when the mortars whistle in or the bullets whiz past, there is no one else in the world but the people to your left and right. There is a level of understanding and mutual appreciation for one another when you realize that the survival of your friends is essential to your own.