A U.S. Marine Sergeant’s Path to Journalism

Launched today: A Kickstarter for Thomas J. Brennan's sweeping digital enterprise The War Horse.

In the fall of 2010, Reuters photographer Finbarr O’Reilly documented a firefight in Nabuk, Afghanistan involving U.S. Marine Sergeant Thomas J. Brennan (pictured). Six years later, the pair have partnered on an ambitious digital journalism initiative, The War Horse, and are writing Shooting Ghosts, a book that will be published in 2017 by Penguin’s Viking Books.

Brennan suffered his third traumatic brain injury in the Nov. 1, 2010 firefight, leading to medical retirement and a new career as a reporter. He contributed more than a dozen entries to The New York Times “At War” blog, starting with a look at the impact of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Brennan also wrote for The Huffington Post, Stars and Stripes and was a reporter for two years with The Daily News in Jackson, N.C.

Now it’s on to The War Horse, which today launched a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign to supplement a robust early phase of donated North Carolina office space, computers, furniture, Web hosting and more. O’Reilly, who retired from Reuters in 2015, will serve as the site’s adviser on visual storytelling.

Two centerpieces of The War Horse will be The Echoes Project, which will individually document all U.S. soldiers and Afghan and Iraqi interpreters killed in action since 9/11, and an aggregation of data on U.S. veteran suicide. In addition to O’Reilly, Brennan has recruited various other impressive folks to help shepherd the enterprise, which thanks to the Kickstarter money hopes to start posting content in the spring.

Advisers also include Bruce Shapiro, director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University, Kevin Cullen, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Boston Globe and veterans Brigette McCoy and Tahlia Burton. The full launch of The War Horse is set for the anniversary date of Sept. 11, 2016.

[Photo via: thewarhorse.org]