DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 10: Twenty eight year old United States Marine Corps. Veteran, Ian Welch, sits for a portrait at his home in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Mr. Welch began his first day of boot camp on September 10, 2001, at age 18. He served three tours in Iraq as an infantry rifleman in the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment between 2003 and 2005. During this time he was present for the taking of the Diyala Bridge in southeastern Baghdad and both Battles of Fallujah.
During the battle for Diyala Bridge Mr. Welch was thrown by the blast of an enemy 155 artillery shell causing a traumatic brain injury, that was diagnosed later in 2006. He was formally discharged in 2010 after serving his final two years in the Wounded Warrior Battalion in Camp Pendleton.
Mr. Welch is considered 100% disabled due to his diagnosis of PTSD and TBI. In November 2011 he and his girlfriend, Katie Brickman, 23, moved from Willoughby, OH, to Dallas, TX, for the care of the Dallas VA Hospital. Ms. Brickman is Mr. Welch's caregiver, through the Department of Veterans Affairs Caregiver Support Program. "The cure is going back," Mr. Welch said. "What do you do with the warrior when you don't have a war? You know, we're nothing now. You create war for yourself. War is when you can't find your car keys. It's when you leave the milk in the freezer. Look at my games, they're all based on war. You create the glories of the past. You're not good for anything else. It's the only thing you've ever done with your life because you joined when you were eighteen.