After years covering the Middle East and reporting on wars and violence in the region, award-winning NPR Corespondent Quil Lawrence turns to the millions of Americans transitioning to life back at home after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here, he shares some insight into what it takes to get by as a journalist in Kabul, Baghdad and Bogota, and through the streets (and weather) of New York too.
David Gilkey /NPR
NPR Veterans Correspondent Quil Lawrence in Afghanistan.
David Gilkey /NPR
My name is... David Aquila Lawrence, but I've been called "Quil" since I was born.
Public radio listener since... my parents first tuned in to the news and classical music on Maine Public Radio when I was a kid.
NPR employee since... March of 2009, but I used to freelance for NPR from Bogota, Colombia back in the 1990s. It was a great place to start out as a journalist - like living inside a Gabriel Garcia Marquez story.
My job at NPR is... correspondent covering Veterans' issues, with a focus on the 2 million or more men and women who have spent a good part of the past decade in Iraq or Afghanistan. Telling their stories can help bridge the gap between veterans and civilians – the wars have just about ended, but coming home may take years.
Hear from Quil Lawrence this week on Morning Edition as he explores some of the most pressing challenges facing America's nearly 2 million female veterans - their roles in combat, the impact of such service on their families, and the ongoing problem of rape and sexual assault in the armed forces.
In my backpack, you'll find... adapters, cables, plugs, mics, recording decks, tea, instant miso soup, passport, toothbrush, razor, kindle, and a towel. Always know where your towel is. At times, I've carried a guitar or mandolin. I took a mandolin into the assault on Fallujah, Iraq in 2004 and got separated from my bag for about four months. It came back full of dust and way out of tune.
If I could share a coffee with anyone, it would be... Chris Thile, mandolin genius.
I wanted to be... a bluegrass musician ...when I grew up.
I've learned the most about radio from... the BBC jedi-masters I worked with overseas – but now I'm picking up a whole new bunch of tricks from NPR's own rock-stars.
The Newscast headline reporting the last year in my life would be... Glad to retire from war reporting – embracing running hot water and loud noises that aren't bombs.
What I miss most about Kabul is... sitting around on cushions next to the woodstove with old friends – there's a palpable sense that young Afghans trying to take a hand in how their country's future will play out. I don't miss waking up to find that the woodstove has gone out...
I listen best when... a hurricane knocks out the power! For five days last Fall a little wind-up radio tuned to WNYC was a life-line, until the lights came back on.
On Sunday morning, you'll find me... riding my bike across one of the bridges to Brooklyn, just for the view.
My next gadget will be... a light on my bike helmet that will defend me from New York taxi-cabs.
I can't live without... snowy winters.