Marine Corporal Zach Skiles (right) was deployed to Iraq in 2003 at the start of the United States invasion. While serving on the frontlines, he lost five of his friends within a two-week period.

When he returned home, Zach found it difficult to hold down a job and soon after found himself homeless. He eventually got back on his feet and is now a doctoral student studying clinical psychology with a focus on helping other veterans in need.

Zach sat down for StoryCorps with his father, Scott (left), to discuss for the first time the day they said goodbye to each other at Zach’s military base, and Zach’s post-war life.

This conversation was recorded at our former San Francisco StoryBooth.

Originally aired April 18, 2015, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.