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'Ugh. I Miss It.'

Following one veteran's difficult transition from military to civilian life. Reported by Eli Saslow, a 2014 Pulitzer recipient, and part of a multi-part series "examining the effects of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars on the 2.6 million American troops who served and fought":

He had tried to replace the war by working construction, roughnecking in the oil fields and enrolling in community college. He had tried divorce and remarriage; alcohol and drugs; biker gangs and street racing; therapy appointments and trips to a shooting range for what he called “recoil therapy.” He had tried driving two hours to the hospital in Laramie, proclaiming himself in need of help and checking himself in.

On this day, he was on his way to try what he considered the most unlikely solution yet: a 9-to-5 office job as a case worker helping troubled veterans — even though he hated office work and had so far failed to help himself.

AUTHOR:Eli Saslow
PUBLISHED: April 19, 2014
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4890 words)

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners: A Reading List

Story picks from this year's winners, including The Washington Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and more.
PUBLISHED: April 14, 2014

The Recovery Puzzle

A story about the U.S. recovery. When a factory opens up in Ohio, the person in charge of hiring people for supervisor positions finds it difficult to find the right candidates to fill the roles:

“Dad’s Resume,” Bernie says to himself and shakes his head. He has an idea of what kind of person Dad’s Resume might be: Late 50s, early 60s. Experienced. Possibly down on his luck. The way the document is labeled makes Bernie think that maybe the guy doesn’t know much about computers and had to rely on his kid to attach the application and e-mail it in.

Dad’s Resume, he thinks, might be the quintessential story of what it means to be a job-seeker in 2014, in this time of retraining and specialized skill sets. Maybe Dad’s skills are obsolete. Maybe he’s found his world upended. The economy is creeping back to normal. Maybe he’s putting himself out there again.

Bernie wants to interview four to five candidates for each supervisory position. He makes a list of his top choices. He adds Dad’s Resume. So this guy might not have computer skills. He wants to give him a shot.

PUBLISHED: April 5, 2014
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3288 words)

Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our favorite stories of the week, from The American Prospect, The New Republic, Men's Journal, Washington Post and Garden & Gun.
PUBLISHED: March 28, 2014

Sinkhole of Bureaucracy

In an old Pennsylvania limestone mine in the town of Boyers, 600 federal employees are still processing paperwork by hand. A look at why the Office of Personnel Management has failed to digitize:

During the past 30 years, administrations have spent more than $100 million trying to automate the old-fashioned process in the mine and make it run at the speed of computers.

They couldn’t.

So now the mine continues to run at the speed of human fingers and feet. That failure imposes costs on federal retirees, who have to wait months for their full benefit checks. And it has imposed costs on the taxpayer: The Obama administration has now made the mine run faster, but mainly by paying for more fingers and feet.

The staff working in the mine has increased by at least 200 people in the past five years. And the cost of processing each claim has increased from $82 to $108, as total spending on the retirement system reached $55.8 million.

PUBLISHED: March 22, 2014
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3085 words)

On teaching meditation in the D.C. Department of Corrections’ Residential Substance Abuse Treatment unit

The writer, on volunteering as a meditation teacher at a detention center holding men convicted of serious crimes:

It’s several weeks after that first class, and the inmates looking me over don’t seem as menacing, I realize — just interested. I don’t know what anyone’s in prison for, and that allows me to talk as I would with anyone.

But the moods inevitably vary from class to class. Deacon, who had initially struck me as easygoing, is irritable today: The sound of the fan is bugging him, and he says he can’t relax. Finally he admits, “I’m thinking about what’s going to happen when I get out, whether I’m going to be able to find a job.”

PUBLISHED: Feb. 27, 2014
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2815 words)

Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our story picks of the week, featuring Rolling Stone, Alex Buono, the Washington Post, New York magazine and Orion, with a guest pick by E.A. Mann.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 8, 2013

Studying Chinese to Reach His Parents

A son of Chinese immigrants learns his parents' native tongue to learn more about who they are and where they came from:

Since we last met, a lot has happened for Daniel. He is taking intermediate Mandarin — not all that close to Shanghainese, but it’s available. And he spent a summer interning in China. He tells me the trip helped him feel “more Chinese” and opened communication with his mom. During a several-week stay at home after the internship, through broken conversation, he learned about her youth in a fishing village near Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. She even showed him a picture of her as a teenager, holding what Daniel understood to be Mao’s "Little Red Book."

PUBLISHED: Nov. 2, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3473 words)

Cold Air. Then Heat. Then Terror.

A fire in Prince George's County in Maryland nearly kills two firefighters. An account of how it happened:

"With temperatures climbing past 1,000 degrees, the shield on his helmet curled, and the liner inside his protective coat melted. His protective mask was so badly damaged that an analysis later concluded that it was on the verge of 'immediate failure.'

"'Everything was hot, everything was burning,' O’Toole said. 'It got hotter and hotter and hotter until the point where you just didn’t want to breathe anymore.' Each breath he took 'felt like someone was cutting your throat.'

"Outside, Sorrell was crying for help, desperate to save his friend. 'Come on! Get that line in there!' he shrieked, a bloodcurdling sound captured on a helmet-mounted video camera worn by a Riverdale firefighter. 'My guy’s in there! Go!'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4867 words)