Audio slideshow: Love, war and mixed martial arts

Samara Freemark
Public Insight Network
Meg Martin
Associate editor
Public Insight Network


Photos by Brandon Quester for the Public Insight Network | Production by Meg Martin & Samara Freemark

Kyle Dubay, 28, was diagnosed with PTSD after his second of three tours as a combat medic in Iraq.

Coming home after his final deployment was rough. The anger, stress and frustration he felt as he tried to process his time in the Army left bad decisions, broken relationships and isolation in their wake.

Eventually he found help, in the form of therapy and a mixed martial arts club in Mesa, Ariz.

That’s where he met Amanda Sonday, 24.

As Amanda and Kyle tell it, they’re good for each other. They look out for each other. They love each other. Only his brother knows him as well as Amanda, Kyle says. But after years of losing friends — to combat, injury, reassignments, deployments and, later, conflict — Kyle’s having a tough time with commitment. He broke off their relationship when it got too serious.

“I’ve never had anyone be better to me,” Kyle says. “And I still push her out.”

But Amanda just won’t leave. She cares too much: “My mind is telling me, ‘Amanda, just walk away … but I just can’t walk away from it.”

Editor’s note (Nov. 21, 2012): The original version of this story misstated the location of the Arizona mixed martial arts club. The story has been updated. 

Samara Freemark Reporter
Public Insight Network

Reporter/producer Samara Freemark joined the Public Insight Network after four years at Radio Diaries in New York City, where she spent her time helping ordinary people tell their extraordinary stories for NPR. In the process, she developed an unshakeable belief in the beauty and power of personal narrative.

Before Radio Diaries Samara worked as an environmental reporter, a posting that took her to sinking islands, Superfund sites, and literal snakepits – Burmese pythons, to be exact. She also churned out copy and tape in the newsroom of WUOM Ann Arbor. Before settling on a career in radio she tried out policy research, community organizing, and urban planning before deciding she preferred soundwaves to spreadsheets.

Meg Martin Associate editor
Public Insight Network
Meg Martin is's associate editor. She joined the PIN crew in St. Paul, Minn., after five years in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Roanoke, Va., where she led the online/multimedia team at the Roanoke Times newspaper. She spent two years before that in St. Petersburg, Fla., at The Poynter Institute - first as a summer writing fellow and later as a fellow and editor at Poynter Online - but she'll always be a Pittsburgher at heart.