Fellow and Award Nominee Team Up

Ochberg Fellow Dave Philipps and Dart Award Honorable Mention recipient Thomas James Brennan co-wrote a front page article for the New York Times about U.S. veterans, disenchanted with civilian life, who are returning to Iraq to fight the Islamic State.

The story features Patrick Maxwell, a 29-year-old Iraq war veteran, who is one of a small number of Americans who have volunteered to take up arms against ISIS, even as the U.S. government has hesitated to put combat troops on the ground.

“I may not be enlisted anymore, but I’m still a warrior,” said Maxwell, who left the Marines with an honorable discharge in 2011, to reporter Thomas Brennan. “I figured if I could walk away from here and kill as many of the bad guys as I could, that would be a good thing.” 

Click below to watch the accompanying video by Elena Boffetta, a student at Columbia Journalism School. 

Brennan, who reported this story from New York, suffered a traumatic brain injury when serving in Afghanistan and was diagnosed with post-traumtic stress upon returning home. He was recognized with a 2012 Dart Award Honorable Mention for his contributions to the New York Times "At War" blog.

Dave Philipps, a 2010 Dart Center Ochberg Fellow, reported this story from Austin, Texas. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize last year for the Colorado Springs Gazette series "Other than Honorable." The two edited the piece together in New York.

Philipps was a participant in the 2010 Dart Center Workshop "When Veterans Come Home," where he spoke with us about his two-part, 15,000-word series "Casualties of War." Watch the full interview below: