A year ago Anwar Elboustani, 26, would not have talked about his four years in Iraq.
“It took me at least a year to recoup and recover,” the Navy veteran said of his return to Brooklyn in 2006.
He could only relate to fellow veterans. He even felt apart from his family, who emigrated to New York from Lebanon a decade ago. “You don’t feel like you belong back home,” he said.
It’s a near universal feeling among vets, said Robert Greene, a program manager at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System. “You’ve been a way for a long time, life moves on,” said Greene.
When Elboustani returned, his first child was on the way. He looked for work at stores, bars and restaurants with no luck.
“I told them what I did in the military, I don’t know if they were interested,” he said.
He went to school and got back on his feet. He will earn a degree at John Jay College, where he mentors other vets, next year.
“My aim is to be a federal agent, that is my dream,” said Elboustani who was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for translation work on a Navy SEALs antiterror mission. “I want to fight terrorism.”