Emma Bowman

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military and their families.

In 2012, Army Spc. Robert Joseph Allen took his own life while serving in the U.S. military. At the time, the suicide rate for active-duty troops was at its highest ever, with more soldiers dying from suicide than in combat.

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 1,600 men and women lost limbs in battle.

For nearly a decade, civilian physical therapists Adele Levine and Etaine Raphael worked side by side helping soldiers navigate life after their injuries.

In a StoryCorps conversation, Levine and Raphael talk about their work at the Walter Reed military hospitals in the Washington, D.C., area.

Levine, 48, vividly recalls the day she saw her first patient who'd been injured in war.

Kittie Weston-Knauer, on the cusp of 70 years old, is the oldest female BMX bicycle racer in the U.S.

When she started competing in the late 1980s, she was often the only woman on the track. It was her son, Max Knauer, a champion BMX rider, who introduced her to the sport when he was 10.

Max, now 40, explains that he planted the racing seed after a frustrating day of his mom playing coach.

Ten years ago, Tracia Kraemer wanted to celebrate her 40th birthday by trying something new.

So she mustered her courage and visited Indian Hills, a nudist park in Louisiana.

At the very least, she figured she'd return home with a good story. "I thought I'd go to Indian Hills, get naked, get dressed and drive off," she says.

But the people she met were so nice and welcoming, she says, that she decided to stay longer that day. "Soon after, I got a membership."

Two years after that first visit, she met her husband-to-be, Patrick Kraemer, at the park.

Charisse Spencer, 64, grew up in southeast Virginia during the 1960s civil rights movement.

Back then, the area of Portsmouth, Va., where her family lived — Cavalier Manor — was one of the largest black suburbs in the country.

"I could stand in my backyard and listen to Ku Klux Klan meetings," Charisse tells her son, Myles Spencer-Watson, in a StoryCorps conversation recorded in 2009. "And in my young mind, I'd imagine these ghostly demons in white sheets with their eyes being black holes and —"

For much of Abby Gagliardo's childhood, her dad had been in and out of jail and prison. "People would ask me, they'd be like, 'Oh, where's your dad?' " Abby recalls in a StoryCorps conversation recorded last year, when she was 16.

She knew he was incarcerated, but she was never given a clear picture why. "I didn't understand any of it," she says.

Roxanne and Dennis Simmonds knew their son as fearless and strong from the day he was born.

"D.J. came out with shoulders of a linebacker," Roxanne says. "He was the first baby I saw that had muscles."

"He wasn't really afraid of anything," Dennis says.

At night, young D.J. would take the dog with him and circle the entire house, to "make sure there's nobody on the grounds," Dennis says, laughing. "I used to say, 'D.J. where you going? It's late.' He would say 'I'm doing a perimeter search, Dad.' "

We're going big on National Poetry Month by going small: We invite our readers to dabble in the literary genre with original Twitter-length poems.

This week, we enlisted the Detroit poet, playwright and performance artist Jessica Care Moore to pick her favorites from the #NPRpoetry feed. From San Francisco, Moore spoke to NPR about which verses stopped her scrolling thumb.

For the most part, she compiled a heartfelt bunch.

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military and their families.

Good things come in small packages — it's a proverbial truth that, for one veteran, holds up even in the middle of war.

At 20 years old, Pfc. Roman Coley Davis found himself 7,000 miles from home. Born in Douglas, Ga., he'd joined the military after high school, and was now living in one of the most remote U.S. outposts in Afghanistan.

Brothers Russell, 28, and Remmick Wadsworth, 27, have autism. As kids, they had trouble with social interactions, so they often relied on each other for support during tough situations. Now, as the siblings navigate the working world, they're still looking out for each other.

Remmick remembers his first job, working with his older brother in a coffee shop. "You would always have my back, talking to customers for me, handle them for me while I make their drinks," he tells Russell during a StoryCorps conversation.

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