Upon arriving in Denver at 11:30 pm and checking into my Air B n B I dropped my bags, grabbed my cameras and walked up Broadway St at the suggestion of friends. Moments after walking up the St. I realized I wouldn’t have any problems locating people who lived on the streets. As I neared the capital, I stopped to talk with a man who was preparing his area for the night. We chatted and I assumed in talking he wasn’t a veteran but what he went on to say confirmed that he was.
His name was Ahmed and he served in the USMC as a mortarman with the ending rank of Sergeant and that he was a Muslim. He said," take that in for a moment! He said everything you are taught in my religion and raised on with your belief system, suddenly is challenged as a solider when you are trained to defend and fight against my people. He said when I got out as a man of my culture I was banned and frowned upon. He said he was in OEF and OIF and that he was fortunate enough to survive through both deployments and make it out alive.
Ahmed struggles daily with PTSD and dreams but what haunts him the most is fighting against the Muslim people and still being an American. He said you can never understand that. Ahmed said that he tried working in various fields of work however the dreams, the loud noises, abruptness of certain things trigger to many emotions. So, he said for me it’s easier to be a loner and just survive out here. After about an hour of chatting he kindly asked could we end the conversation so he could go to bed. So, as he pulled his hood over his face, I got up from sitting on the sidewalk said goodnight and went on my way.