War Wounds: A Conversation With A Combat Veteran


So it's been a minute since Aroha or I have used the blog. Partly 'cause we're busy, partly  cause we're overloaded, partly 'cause we're scared of getting flamed on Twitter for saying something wrong. Anyways, I've swallowed my fear of public shaming and decided I actually really enjoy the conversation that can come from sharing, thoughts, experiences and ideas, so I'm anteing up and looking to start putting things out there again. 

For the last couple of months I've been travelling, meeting new people, getting lost, finding things out about myself, it's been an amazing time. Most recently, I was hanging out in Orange County, California, at my dear friend Dan Smith's Captured Tattoo.  I've been hanging around tattoo studios for nearly 20 years, and without a doubt, tattoo studios have always led to me having interesting conversations with the eclectic mix of folks you find in them.  As I offered around vegan ice-creams I got chatting to the dude who was taking getting tattooed   like a champ and so it came to pass I met George Ceja. George had a really cool energy about him, a ready smile, he laughed easily. We just met and we were already having some great lols.  He struck me as the sort of friend I'd hit the gym and hang out with in my normal life.  And yet, it turned out he'd taken part in a war I'd been deeply and vocally opposed to. I'd marched in my little city of Auckland against the U.S invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. I'd regularly shared links through my social networks, about the civilian death toll. I'd cried for Bush and Rumsfield to be tried for illegal invasions. But here I was talking shit and making jokes and enjoying hanging out with a guy who had taken part in that war.

"Is that a purple heart?", I asked,  pointing to a piece he already had.  
"Yeah dude" he replied.
"Oh man, what happened?"
"I got blown up, in Afghanistan, my back got broken."
" Woah, that's wild can I record a conversation with you about that for my shitty little blog"  I asked.  
He was totally into it. New tattoo still bleeding and wrapped in cling wrap, he sat down on the couch as the shop shut down for the day and we got to talking.   The lighting wasn't great, the sound was recorded just on the little Sony action cam I'd been travelling with and I didn't have a point to make with the interview, but I think George ended up sharing some interesting insights into something that had dominated headlines for years that we don't often get to hear. Take a look, despite it's poorly edited glory, I think it was a cool conversation.