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Marine, Combat Photographer Recount Mental Wounds Of War

TJ Brennan (left) sits dazed with a concussion from an RPG explosion during a...

Credit: Finbarr O'Reilly/REUTERS

Above: TJ Brennan (left) sits dazed with a concussion from an RPG explosion during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, Nov. 1, 2010.

Marine, Combat Photographer Recount Mental Wounds Of War


Thomas J. Brennan, co-author, "Shooting Ghosts"


In 2010 Thomas J. Brennan was in Afghanistan's Helmand Province leading 15 other Marines to secure a local village and establish a new police checkpoint. The squad was ambushed by Taliban fighters on three sides and Brennan suffered a severe concussion.

The traumatic brain injury affected his memory, but Brennan lied to military doctors about his symptoms so he could return to his command.

"It was purely selfish on my part and in hindsight, I risked the lives of every Marine in my squad," Brennan said. "I didn't want to live with the guilt of something happening to them while I wasn't there and me not being able to protect them."

After he medically retired in 2012, Brennan studied journalism and founded the non-profit The War Horse, which broke the Marines United nude photo scandal. Brennan has written about the traumas of war in the new book, "Shooting Ghosts: A U.S. Marine, A Combat Photographer and Their Journey Back From War." His co-author is Finbarr O'Reilly, a Reuters photojournalist who was embedded with Brennan's unit when he was attacked.

RELATED: Female Marines In San Diego Hope USMC Will React Better To Latest Photo Scandal

Brennan joined KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss whether the Marines have improved how it treats brain injuries and what it took for him to finally seek help.


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