Purdue University Graduate School

File(s) under permanent embargo

The Militia House

posted on 2019-06-10, 19:11 authored by John S MilasJohn S Milas

John, it is October, 2001. The U.S. has just occupied Afghanistan, and you’re happy about that, but you’re only twelve years old, too young to act on any nationalistic impulses. In your eighth grade yearbook at age fourteen, you’ll write in your third person biography that someday you hope to be an author and a U.S. Marine. When you’re nineteen, you’ll enlist in the Marines, and then join the occupation of Afghanistan at age twenty-one, from which you’ll return home safely. Now you’re twenty-three and you’re going back to school, mature enough to understand the complicit nature of your involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom. By the time you reach grad school at age twenty-seven, you’ll begin to feel a nagging guilt, and you’ll bear the full impact of this guilt by the time you turn thirty and begin writing your thesis. You’ll want to write a book reflecting your experience in a real-life war, describing what it was like to be there, and what it was like to be a part of something that people had forgotten about before you were even old enough to participate. Instead of reporting the facts, which you will do on many occasions throughout your book-length project entitled The Militia House, you’ll write about the experience as a haunting. John, if this manuscript reaches your hands in 2001 via some means of time travel, I want you to know that you’ll have accomplished your goals, but at a significant cost. Even though you will survive the war, you’ll leave a part of yourself in Afghanistan forever. But perhaps even worse, a piece of Afghanistan will come back with you to live inside of your body and your mind, and it will haunt you for the rest of your life.


Degree Type

  • Master of Fine Arts


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Roxane Gay

Additional Committee Member 2

Clotilde Landais

Additional Committee Member 3

Brian Leung

Usage metrics


    Ref. manager