Murkowski Honors New Generation of Heroes with ‘Veteran Spotlight’ on National Airborne Day

Afghanistan & Iraq War Veteran: “Remembering the Fallen Helps Me Cope”

In honor of National Airborne Day, Senator Lisa Murkowski today released the Veteran Spotlight of Paul Shirey, an Army infantry veteran living in Eagle River, Alaska who was inspired to join the Army after 9/11 and did tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In a compelling and honest Veteran Spotlight interview, Paul recounts his experiences while serving with the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Richardson.  Paul served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2004 and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2006 to 2008.  Though he has now been home in Alaska for years, Shirey still struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) every day.

“You have a whole new generation of soldiers who are going to be affected by the things they have seen and done,” said Shirey.  “Any time I have a down day, I think about the fallen, and I think about what they would be doing with their lives right now.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about them.  I live my life for them, and it helps me appreciate what I have.”


CLICK HERE for interview


“Unfortunately, PTSD is a very real problem for veterans returning home from war,” said Murkowski.  “This is a new generation of veterans, and it takes the entire Alaskan community, to reach out to these men and women who have fought for us to help them through the darkness.  We owe it to them to honor them through sharing their stories, and we owe it to the rest of us to learn from the high levels of patriotism, commitment and service they demonstrated for us.”

The “Veteran Spotlight” project is a monthly focus on an Alaska veteran of our conflicts worldwide to honor and draw the well-deserved attention to Alaska’s men and women who served.  Every month, the Senator will post a biography and an interview with an Alaskan who served our country abroad, in conjunction with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.

Congress created the Veterans History Project (VHP), in 2000. Representatives Ron Kind, Amo Houghton, and Steny Hoyer in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel in the U.S. Senate, sponsored the project under unanimous support. The law was signed by President Bill Clinton on October 27, 2000.  The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Senator Murkowski and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) that commemorates August 16th as National Airborne Day.

To nominate an Alaskan veteran to be included in Sen. Murkowski’s Veteran Spotlight project, email Spotlight@Murkowski.Senate.Gov.