Rating: 5 / 5
In Thank You For Your Service, David Finkel follows a group of soldiers at the end of their deployment, as they struggle to return to their post-service life. America has millions of veterans, and a large portion of them return home with injuries. It is somewhat easy to feel compassion and empathy for the visible wounds, the amputations and disfigurements that are readily discernible. But what about the invisible wounds that are not readily apparent? So many soldiers return home and suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injury, which can lead to depression, insomnia, and even suicide. Although soldiers return home, the battle field experience has permanently scarred many of them.
Thank You For Your Service follows a small group from the US 2-16 Infantry Battalion that fought in Baghdad as they return back to home soil, and their attempts to re-integrate in the civilian world. Finkel’s writing is intimate, and powerfully moving in its simplicity and realism. Finkel doesn’t need to use hyperbole; reality itself is shocking and heartbreaking without exaggeration. He writes with compassion While it is the soldiers that are sent abroad and risk their lives, the war also has profound effects on the spouses and children of soldiers. It is simply heartbreaking to read about the wives and girlfriends who must adjust to mentally and physically scarred veterans. Most of the time the women are not capable of handling the change, and for all the discussion there is about soldiers getting the help needed to recuperate, there is definitely a lack of help or support system for families of soldiers.
The number of suicides by veterans has been climbing over the decades, but there is not enough help or resources for soldiers. There are programs available, but admission is highly bureaucratic and cumbersome. Additionally, many veterans who need to be in such programs cannot go because they need to be holding down jobs. General Peter Chiarelli has worked tirelessly to bring the staggering suicide rate to the forefront of people’s minds and obtain additional funding for recuperation programs, but his efforts seem futile at times, and progress at the hands of high powered politicians whom he had to wine and dine.
Bottom line: Thank You For Your Service is a deeply moving and humbling account of what soldiers and their families struggle with on a daily basis. This book should be read because it is important, current, and everyone needs to see what soldiers go through (even after they are discharged) so that we may live in freedom and prosperity.