Ten days after the start of the war in Iraq, Staff Sergeant Thom Tran crossed the border from Kuwait with his unit. Four days later, he went out on a recon mission, and came millimeters from death when an enemy bullet grazed the back of his head in a firefight. He got relatively lucky; but still, he's spent the last 15 years thinking about how that moment—and his service—have defined his life after the military.
Because for Thom, coming home after his deployment ended was not easy. "I had a real shit attitude because I'd been shot, my roommate had been killed...I was in a real bad mood all the time," he told me. "So I did what every combat veteran does. I fell into a bottle and I sat there." I talked with him about sharing those experiences with his father, who was a POW in Vietnam, and about how comedy has helped him manage his stress in the years since.