Michiko Kakutani reviews David Finkel's new book ”˜Thank You for Your Service’

Some of [“The Good Soldiers,” Mr. Finkel’s previous] book’s most powerful passages dealt with the war after the war ”” the efforts of the soldiers to come to terms with their injuries and ineradicable memories, and to try to readjust to ordinary life back home in the States. Mr. Finkel’s new book, “Thank You for Your Service,” amplifies that story, tracking the lives of some of the same soldiers after their deployments have ended. They and their families attempt to recover some facsimile of normalcy or, in the words of one veteran’s wife, “come up with reasonable expectations of what can be,” given their lingering physical and psychological wounds.

This is a heartbreaking book powered by the candor with which these veterans and their families have told their stories, the intimate access they have given Mr. Finkel (an editor and writer for The Washington Post) into their daily lives, and their own eloquence in speaking about their experiences. The book leaves the reader wondering why the Veterans Affairs Department cannot provide better, more accessible care for wounded warriors. And why soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder ”” which Mr. Finkel says studies show afflicts 20 to 30 percent of the two million Americans who have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ”” must often wade through so much paperwork and bureaucracy to obtain meaningful treatment.

Read it all.


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One comment on “Michiko Kakutani reviews David Finkel's new book ”˜Thank You for Your Service’

  1. Terry Tee says:

    I read this wondering about my own Dad. He was a combat veteran of WW2. He was blown up by an anti-personnel mine that killed his friend and wounded Dad – I saw the scars every time he took his shirt off. Yet nobody in those days had heard of PTSD. I say this not to critique the concept – the pain, suffering and trauma are very real – but rather to make the point that WW2 veterans did not have much help afterwards. Dad never ever spoke of his war experiences. Ever. In retrospect I find that strange, weird even. I even asked my closest lifetime friends (from our first year at university, 1965) and find that their dads too never spoke of their war experiences. Were they hiding pain, in an era and a culture which did not encourage men to open up? Dad was a hard-working, decent, honorable man – but he did have a prodigious thirst. And he was a very quiet man, and who knows what memories he had?