"I risked my life -- for what?"

As they watch Iraq’s mounting body count and potential slide into civil war, some Iraq War veterans are more intensely questioning why they went, what it all meant, and whether the deaths of 4,486 U.S. troops on that foreign soil were worth the permanent cost.

Others are concerned about the impact that Iraq’s summer unraveling may have on the morale of active-duty troops who once fought there and who now are trying to finish the equally grinding mission in Afghanistan.

And 10 years after the Iraq invasion, the deployment and re-deployments of 1.5 million Americans, the subsequent execution of ex-leader Saddam Hussein, the rise of new acronyms like IED and PTSD, and a jarring suicide epidemic, a portion of former Iraq War troops say the mental-health struggles faced by so many younger veterans may consequently deepen.

“You think about the guys who lost their lives in World War II, at least there was a higher purpose for risking your life,” said Andrew O’Brien, an Army convoy gunner who served in Iraq during 2008 and 2009, surviving an IED blast. He attempted suicide in 2010. “Now that I’m hearing about this, all I think about is the guys we lost in Iraq. It’s hard to not think that it meant nothing.”

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