From helping to prosecute Saddam Hussein to targeting enemy combatants to defending fellow service members, seven active duty or military veterans served in the war efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both, and have matriculated at HLS this year.

Four are JAG officers earning their LL.M. degrees this year, two in the Navy: Lieutenant Commander Susan McGarvey and Lieutenant Commander Sylvaine Wong; and two in the U.S. Marine Corps: Captain Siddhartha Veldany and Captain Courtney Walsh. There are also three Army veterans in this year’s 1L class: Ian GoreGraham Phillips, and Steven Schartup.

All seven recently told their stories to HLS writer Elaine McArdle:

Ian Gore ’13, U.S. Army, Captain

As a U.S. Army intelligence officer stationed in Baghdad in 2006 and 2007, Ian Gore ’13 was a targeting officer, responsible for building “target packets” against enemy combatants: working with locals to find out who the enemies were, compiling evidence against them, explaining to the unit commander why a particular person should be arrested and detained, and describing the goals that would be achieved… Read more »

Susan McGarvey LL.M. ‘11, U.S. Navy, Lieutenant Commander

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Susan McGarvey LL.M.’ 11 was in the courthouse when Saddam Hussein was on trial for the Anfal Campaign, the genocide of Kurds that he ordered in the late 1980s. A glass wall separated the direct participants in the trial—Hussein, the judges, defense counsel, witnesses and others—from the observers, including McGarvey, who was there as the Navy’s legal representative at the trial. … Read more »

Graham Phillips, U.S. Army, Sergeant

It was between his junior and senior years at Princeton, in the summer of 2004 when the war in Iraq was not very old, that Graham Phillips ’13 decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. “A lot of people were debating the war and what was happening over there, and I got the idea that lots of them who didn’t know what they were talking about were sharing their opinions,” says Phillips, who graduated Princeton summa cum laude with a degree in history. “That got me thinking that if you really wanted to know what was going on over there, you had to be there.” … Read more »

Steven Schartup, U.S. Army, Captain

Steven Schartup ’13 is a U.S. Army veteran who did two tours of duty in Iraq, one involving combat, and another couple of months in Kosovo in a peacekeeping operation. Since leaving the active Army, he’s been with the National Guard for over three years. Now that he’s at HLS, his one-weekend-a-month of Guard duty, which he serves in New York, is difficult to balance with his 1L studies and time with his wife and son. While he’s entitled to resign from the Guard, Schartup struggles with leaving. … Read more »

Siddhartha Velandy LL.M. ’11, U.S. Marine Corps, Captain

For the first three months his battalion was stationed in Al Anbar Province in Iraq in early 2007, the situation was “highly kinetic,” recalls U.S. Marine Captain Siddhartha Velandy LL.M. ’11, with the Marines either under relentless attack or aggressively patrolling in order to create a secure environment. “We didn’t have electricity or running water. It was just about as expeditionary as you can get.” With a broad smile, he adds, “It was just the type of place Marines would like to be. That’s by and large what Marines sign up to do; you go quickly to the toughest environments and persevere, accomplishing the mission no matter how difficult.” … Read more »

Courtney Walsh LL.M. ’11, U.S. Marine Corps, Captain

In his first tour of duty in Iraq, in 2007, Marine Capt. Courtney Walsh LLM ’11 was one of two defense attorneys who represented Marines in Al Anbar Province charged with a range of infractions, from disciplinary violations to serious crimes tried in a court-martial. Walsh also handled basic civil legal matters for Marines that needed help, including family law matters, wills, and letters to creditors, “fan favorites,” as Walsh puts it, adding, with a wry smile, “I was the most qualified divorce lawyer in Iraq.” … Read more »

Sylvaine Wong LL.M. ’11, U.S. Navy, Lieutenant Commander

As a little girl in Berkeley, Calif., U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Sylvaine Wong LL.M. ’11 became enamored of the Navy when her dad took her each year to “Fleet Week” to clamber aboard aircraft carriers and visit other military craft. “I grew up always wanting to be in the Navy. It affected my entire thought process,” says Wong, who was drawn especially to the idea of service to her country. After graduating U.C. Berkeley in 1998, she enrolled at Columbia Law with the intention of becoming a JAG officer. But, before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, she found no classmates who shared her military interest, and in fact most seemed puzzled that she would turn down an associate position with a big New York law firm. … Read more »