“because you can’t live that way and keep anything inside you”

That was my original title for the Guernica piece, a quote from All Quiet on the Western Front. I’m reminded of it now, as I’ve started to get letters from families of soldiers that tear at my heart.One, in particular, wrote that someone they loved

…did two tours in Iraq and was nearly killed by shrapnel.  He is now home with a  diagnosis of PTSD. He sits and stares and reveals nothing of his inner turmoil to his family. The VA medicates him and sends him on his way.
Your article should be required reading by anybody who has a relationship with a vet.  We worry about him and the many like him who do what they are asked to do and are then disposed of without thought to their well being.
Thanks for providing the walk through history.

That’s why I drew so extensively on this guy’s words:

I was also heartened to hear from an active-duty soldier, who called the piece “solid.” And another set of parents wrote to remind me that many soldiers enlist for a mix of reasons:

Very powerful……Unfortunately, most of the recruits are coming from homes of economic hardship. These kids join for the money, the opportunities, the benefits. They have no idea what the horrors of war actually are.

Others enlist because of their sense of duty and patriotism, my son being one of them. He was driven by images of the 9/11 attacks. Again, not having any concrete idea of what they will be facing and what they will experience.

The sacrifices of these soldiers and their families draw my loyalty, not the war itself.

Me too.

Now I get to hope the book honors them properly.

Published by chrislombardi

Journalist, novelist, educator.

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