In late 2001 Russell Snyder joined the United States Army as a psychological operations specialist. As a member of the 9th PSYOP Battalion, the army's only active-duty, tactical psychological operations unit he deployed to Iraq, the experience that inspired him to write Hearts and Mines. Subsequently he was deployed twice more to Iraq. He is a recipient of various military awards including the Bronze Star medal. Now a civilian, he lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.