Quil Lawrence

Quil Lawrence is a New York-based correspondent for NPR News, covering veterans' issues nationwide. He won a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his coverage of American veterans and a Gracie Award for coverage of female combat veterans. In 2019 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America honored Quil with its IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Journalism.

Lawrence started his career in radio by interviewing con men in Tangier, Morocco. He then moved to Bogota, Colombia, and covered Latin America for NPR, the BBC, and The LA Times.

In the Spring of 2000, a Pew Fellowship sponsored his first trips to Iraq — that reporting experience eventually built the foundation for his first book, Invisible Nation: How the Kurds' Quest for Statehood is Shaping Iraq and the Middle East (Bloomsbury, 2009).

Lawrence has reported from throughout the Arab world and from Sudan, Cuba, Pakistan, Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan for twelve years, serving as NPR's Bureau Chief in Baghdad and Kabul. He covered the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the second battle of Fallujah in 2004, as well as politics, culture, and war in both countries.

In 2012, Lawrence returned to the U.S. to cover the millions of men and women who have served at war, both recently and in past generations. NPR is possibly unique among major news organizations in dedicating a full-time correspondent to veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A native of Maine, Lawrence studied history at Brandeis University, with concentrations in the Middle East and Latin America. He is fluent in Spanish and conversant in Arabic.

On Aug. 14, a restaurant owner inside the Kabul airport terminal suddenly sold out his entire stock of food, as passengers flocked to the airport. Then he noticed the Afghan customs officers, airport police and other officials changing out of their uniforms and into civilian clothes. Some were looking frantically for seats on the last flights out.

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Fida started working with U.S. Special Forces in 2006. In the following decade, the Afghan interpreter worked for USAID, U.S. Marines and finally the U.S. State Department. When he spoke to NPR back in 2018, Fida asked to only be identified by his first name for security reasons.

"I am proud to have worked with such wonderful people," he said of the Americans he met over the years, "And they stand by me."

Every day of Lyla Kohistany's life, her native Afghanistan was at war. But the first time she really saw the country, she was a 25-year-old U.S. Navy intelligence officer.

"I remember the aircraft doing the whole zigging and zagging because you don't want to get hit by insurgent fire," Kohistany said of her first deployment in 2005.

Kohistany's family had left when she was a toddler, so she had no memory of the breathtaking snowy mountains that surround the Afghan capital. Their beauty moved her, but also made her realize how lucky she was to have grown up in the U.S.

A video game changed Peter Tamte's life. And forever altered his view of military service.

In the early 2000s the U.S. Marine Corps recruited the developer to help design video training programs. Tamte, who had never served, befriended a bunch of the grunts who were testing his product. Then came the second battle of Fallujah in Iraq, the heaviest urban fighting for U.S. troops since Vietnam.

Matt Lammers was completely alone the first time we met.

The cigarette butts and old ammunition cans clearly marked his apartment door. Camouflage netting blocked the Arizona sun, but it also sent a message: this guy was still in Iraq. I knocked on the door at 9 a.m. and woke him from the only hour of sleep he'd had all night.

He apologized. I apologized. And after a couple hours killing time around Tucson, I came back. Lammers rolled out his door for a smoke in a manual wheelchair, shirtless. Which saved questions — scars and ink tell his story.

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Twenty-five years in the making, a new monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., opens on Veterans Day — the National Native American Veterans Memorial.

"It's an article of faith in Indian country that Native Americans serve at a greater rate than basically any other group," said Kevin Gover, the director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. He said the steel ring sculpture over a carved stone drum, in a wooded area near the museum's entrance, will become hallowed ground.

A growing list of attendees to a reception last month for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett have tested positive for coronavirus.

But the next day, the annual Gold Star Mother's Day event was held indoors at the White House, and official photos from the reception show very few people wearing masks.

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