No journalist has reckoned with the psychology of war as intimately as David Finkel. In The Good Soldiers, his bestselling account from the front lines of Baghdad, Finkel shadowed the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion as they carried out the infamous surge, a grueling fifteen-month tour that changed all of them forever. Now Finkel has followed many of those same men as they've returned home and struggled to reintegrate - both into their family lives and into American society at large.
In the ironically named Thank You for Your Service, Finkel writes with tremendous compassion not just about the soldiers but about their wives and children. Where do soldiers belong after their homecoming? Is it possible, or even reasonable, to expect them to rejoin their communities as if nothing has happened? And in moments of hardship, who are soldiers expected to turn to if they feel alienated by the world they once lived in? These are the questions Finkel faces as he revisits the brave but shaken men of the 2-16.
More than a work of journalism, Thank You for Your Service is an act of understanding - shocking but always riveting, unflinching but deeply humane, it takes us inside the heads of those who must live the rest of their lives with the chilling realities of war.
Two years later: Adam drops the baby.
The baby, who is four days old, is his son, and there is a moment as he is falling that this house he has come home to seems like the most peaceful place in the world. Outside is the cold dead of 3:00 a.m. on a late-November night in Kansas, but inside is lamplight, the warm smell of a newborn, and Adam's wife, Saskia, beautiful Saskia, who a few minutes before had asked her husband if he could watch the baby so she could get a little sleep. "I got it," he had said. "I got it. Get some rest." She curled up in the middle of their bed, and the last thing she glimpsed was Adam reclined along the edge, his back against the headboard and the baby in his arms. He was smiling, as if contentment for this wounded man were possible at last, and she believed it enough to shut her eyes, just before he shut his. His arms soon relaxed. His grip loosened. The baby rolled off of his chest and over the edge of the bed, and here came that peaceful moment, the...
David Finkel maintains his objective distance as a professional journalist – this isn't a polemic against war or the way the United States cares for its veterans - but there really isn't much good news to report in this ongoing story. It is, however, a very important book that helps readers understand the human cost of war, and the ongoing problems our returning soldiers and their families face.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1150 words).
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are being called the "signature injuries" of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. These conditions are closely related, but are, in fact, vastly different.
PTSD is a psychological response to a traumatic event. While most associate the term with military combat, any overwhelming life experience can trigger it, especially if the event feels unpredictable or uncontrollable. It can affect anyone who experiences, witnesses, or cleans up after a catastrophe. Those with PTSD most often see symptoms develop soon after an event, but sometimes it can take weeks, months or years before they occur. People with PTSD find their symptoms do not decrease and may even get worse over time. ...
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