WG grad, Camillus native shares war experience

"I was really open. I wasn't for the war, I wasn't against the war, I was willing to find out how I felt about it," he said.

He was deployed in early March of 2003 in support of the invasion of Iraq, and landed in Kuwait. Within two weeks, he arrived in Babylon, Iraq. There, his company set up base, where he remembered locals supporting them.

"Whatever they could do to help, they were really supportive of us," Casler said of the locals. He shared a violent memory of three local men who would daily walk for hours to a market to retrieve food for the Marines, and only be paid upon return. One night, it became Casler's duty to send them away before they were paid, and when he did not do so, the men were beaten.

"Later on, I realized we invaded Iraq without a translator," Casler said at one point. "But it didn't matter, we didn't need to communicate we needed to control them."

Four years later

While in the military, he had rationalized with himself that if he could pick up rank and be promoted he would be able to "fix" the actions of other Marines. Though Casler reflects on being internally conflicted throughout his military career, he also readily admits that he was not willing to act on his feelings, opting instead to mold himself into the personality that he saw excelling within the Marines.

He was discharged on August 5, 2006, a Saturday. He recalls being "dropped into society," having had six months of training to prepare for the Marines and six hours of classes to reenter society.

"I didn't really like what I had done, so when I got out I didn't really fit in with the community and didn't really fit in with myself," Casler said. "It took me a few months to get my feet back on the ground."

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