Sebastian Junger became famous as the author of "The Perfect Storm," but in recent years, he has devoted his efforts toward covering the war in Afghanistan. For his documentary film "Restrepo," he paired with photographer Tim Hetherington to follow a platoon in the Korengal Valley, considered the deadliest valley in Afghanistan. The film took its name from Outpost Restrepo, named in honor of Juan Restrepo, a medic who was killed in action.
Junger's latest project has a tragic connection to his earlier work. Junger has announced he is launching an initiative intended to train journalists so they are equipped to provide first-aid if a colleague is injured in the line of duty.
Junger was inspired to organize the effort by the circumstances contributing to the death of his friend and partner Hetherington who was killed a year ago in Libya covering battles that led to the downfall of Moammar Gadhafi.
Junger said that Hetherington's injuries were serious, but with prompt, appropriate, first-aid, he could have survived. Unfortunately, none of the other journalists around when he was hit had the training to save his life and Hetherington bled to death in the back of a pickup truck from a shrapnel wound.
He was one of seven journalists killed while covering combat last year. Less than five months into 2012, there have already been six journalists killed while covering combat. Five of the journalists killed this year died covering the government crackdown of dissidents in Syria. Most infamously three journalists, including renowned combat reporter Marie Colvin, were killed Feb. 22 when their makeshift press center was shelled by the Syrian Army.
There are those who would just as well allow overseas combat to go unnoticed, unreported, overlooked and ignored.
Seventy American soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year. The war in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of 1,811 American soldiers in total.
As nations grapple with civil war or entrenched governments seek to put down revolutions spawned by the hopeful energy of the Arab Spring, the human costs are tremendous. Those who venture into war zones to document those costs put their lives on the line in the belief that their efforts will make it more difficult for the rest of the world to ignore the horror.
There is simply not the support available to help them when things go wrong. Junger's Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleague's (RISC) initiative has received support from ABC News, CNN, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Getty Images, Conde Nast, the Chris Hondros Fund and the Committee to Protect Journalists. It is a cause that matters deeply to those who practice the craft of journalism, but the heroism exhibited by combat journalists is something that ought to be appreciated by all.