The photographs have the sense of a moment preserved. There are rustled sheets, shirts tossed over furniture. In one, a dimpled duvet cover gives away the spot where Rifleman Paul Donnachie, 18, sat before heading off to war. The last bedroom in the book belongs to Army Specialist Ryan Yurchison, 27. It’s plastered in band posters and scattered with the toys of a young man—a Nixon mask, bobbleheads, drum sticks. Yurchison is the only service member in the book who made it home. But by the time he got there, he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and an addiction to painkillers. He died of an overdose on May 22, 2010, in Youngstown, OH. “Ryan is the last person in the book because he made it home,” says Gilbertson, “but the war followed him.” 

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Christie Chisholm is a CJR senior editor. Follow her on Twitter at @c_chisholm.