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.