A Personal War

By Sierra Jiminez

At 18 years old, Jared Starkel said he had no idea what he wanted to do in life. Not ready to go to college, Starkel decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corps during his senior year of high school. The U.S. government last deployed Starkel to Iraq. But with the danger of war behind him, Starkel is still facing a personal war at home.

“In the military you’re told every day to suck it up and keep going and don’t worry about stuff,” Starkel said. “If it’s bothering you, they’ll literally just say ‘suck it up’. Now that it’s all said and done, I guess I’m just slowly trying to let it go instead of sucking it up all the time.”

A proud husband and parent, Starkel struggles to balance his family life with his post-traumatic stress disorder. His mind is constantly burdened with memories from his three deployments in Iraq. Many nights, the thought of being back in the Middle East fills his dreams with terror. “I remember one dream I had a few months ago, I woke up, and I thought I was on post getting shot at or something,” Starkel said. “It took a couple minutes for me to kind of collect myself and find out where I was and that’s when I thought I needed to figure out something for this stuff. I don’t want it to get worse.”

With his fourth child on the way, Starkel is now forced to get his life in order. His job at the local grocery store isn’t going to be enough for the growing family, and their lack of medical insurance doesn’t make things any easier. Now, Starkel has begun the long, strenuous task of applying for his service-related disability benefits

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Photography by AJ Chavar


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