In honor of the our nation’s birthday, we celebrate the festivities with fireworks (be careful!), flags, and picnics.
It’s important, though, that we seize the holiday as an opportunity to remember that there are still battles taking place, both on and off the war front.
A few months ago (well before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implosion surfaced, which eventually led to the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki), I was engrossed in reading a first-hand account of what was happening to our soldiers upon their return from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here’s a short review of it that was originally published in San Francisco Book Review.
“I feel so fucking violent right now,” wrote a young soldier in the journal he maintained as part of the healing process during his transition from the battlefield to civilian life.
In David Finkel’s Thank You for Your Service, recently named by Amazon as the “best nonfiction book of the year,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer followed a group of young yet troubled male veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Like those who served in Vietnam, our most recent veterans are burdened with similar adjustment issues.
Whether it’s excessive drug or alcohol use, suicidal thoughts, violent outbursts, or domestic abuse, the twenty-something-year-old vets that Finkel chronicled are suffering from varying degrees of PTSD and are in need of much more assistance than their families or even the VA normally can provide.
The horror that combatants experienced make this insightful and well-told book–a sequel to the author’s previous book about the war, The Good Soldiers–difficult to plow through. Hopefully, it serves as a reminder to the 99% of Americans unaffected by these recent conflicts that we need to do more for our veterans.