Jordan Finley
Jordan Finley deployed to Iraq four years ago with the 1st Battalion 8th Marines. He then deployed to Afghanistan. When his time of service ended in June, he returned to his childhood home in Lake Stevens. Since then, he has been readjusting to life outside the service. Here, he looks over at his girlfriend, Whitney Pahls, as he stops at a red light in Lake Stevens after picking her up from work at Perry Ellis.
Jordan attended his first American Legion picnic in Lake Stevens earlier this summer with Whitney, right, and his mother, Lisa Finley. Here, he and Whitney talk with John Common, an older veteran and member of the American Legion Lake Stevens Memorial Post 181. Jordan has know Common for about ten years now, and Common gave Jordan a pocket cross before he left for Iraq. Jordan carried it with him during his four years of service, and in times of trouble, feeling it in his pocket brought him comfort.
Jordan and Whitney pray with others at start of the American Legion picnic. Jordan became a member of the Lake Stevens post of the American Legion a few days afterward.
Jordan laces up his combat boots in his bedroom before the Aquafest parade in Lake Stevens. He still regularly wears the boots, which he wore daily in Iraq and Afghanistan. The rest of his belongings from his time of service, though, remain unpacked in his Seabag in the garage.
Jordan, carrying the Marine Corps flag, marches in the Aquafest Parade with other members of the Lake Stevens American Legion. It was the first time that Jordan had been a part of such a celebration as a veteran, and he was proud of that. Going through the motions of marching, though, and of bearing the flag, and listening as taps were played, brought him back to his time of service. “It’s too close to let go of myself and enjoy myself," he said when the parade ended.
Jordan eats dinner at his home in Lake Stevens on an evening in August. After four years in the service, there is a freedom for Jordan in choosing what he wants for dinner each night.
Jordan flips through his journal of poetry in his bedroom at home, the same bedroom he grew up in. During his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jordan wrote poetry on any scraps of paper he could find, and when he got home, he compiled them all in a journal. Writing brought him comfort, and though reading the poems now brings up the emotions he felt when writing them, they are, he says, "an important piece of my history." Looking back at them now, "I feel a sense of closure. In light of knowing where I've been and where I'm going, there's hope."
Whitney is a source of happiness and strength for Jordan, and being with her helps relieve some of the tension he feels.
A few months after he returned home, Jordan was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and told that he had sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from when a 40-pound IED exploded beneath the MATV he was driving. He had a TBI screening with Dr. Lisa McPeak in August, shown here, at the Center for Polytrauma Care at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle. The appointment was aimed at determining the level of severity of the TBI.
Jordan answers the doctor's questions during an appointment. Jordan regularly experiences triggers that throw him back to when he was in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has short term memory loss, and has trouble sleeping. His reactions are often too sharp for others. “I can sometimes come off, some might say, controlling, some might say possessive, some might say angry. But I’m not...I don’t want people to judge me. I want…I want people to be patient.”
Jordan likes the focus he gets from working on his family's cars, and doing repair projects around the house. It relaxes him, he said. His relationships with Whitney and his family have grown stronger since his return.
Since returning home, Jordan has not unpacked his Seabag, the canvas bag that holds all of his belongings from combat. It continues to sit untouched in the corner of his garage.
Jordan's faith has grown increasingly more important to him since his return, and has helped him find his footing again in civilian life. It has, Jordan says, played "a crucial part in getting back to the old me."  Here, Jordan reacts to the "The Laughing Christ" portrait, a gift given to him by Lew McAllister, at right, a family friend and a man whom Jordan views as a role model.
Though Jordan had initially planned on pursuing business and communications when he got out of the service, he has since decided that he will join the ministry. "I have a testimony that's worth sharing," Jordan said, and becoming a pastor will allow him to use his own experiences to help others. And, he says, "it will challenge me to be the man I know I'm capable of being." Here, Jordan has coffee with Kevin Lane in August. "He is a great friend who helps me with my spiritual walk," Jordan says of Kevin.
Jordan and Whitney pray during a Sunday service at Canyon Hills Community Church in Bothell. "There are safe ways to live our lives," said. "In a failing economy, (in) financial struggles, in hardships, in relationships, there are so many different ways which we settle, day after day. We settle for less ... We would take not necessarily the wrong way, but the easiest, or the path of least resistance. And so many times we travel the path of least resistance because it's the easiest one to go down. Or because it's the one that hurts the least." But "out of hardship is born perseverance, and it produces only great things in your life."