The phrase “Thank You For Your Service” rarely comes up in the new book of the same name by veteran war journalist David Finkel. When it is spoken by “the ones who have never been to war” with their “gooey eyes and orthodontist smiles,” it’s the Hallmark card idiom that continually mocks his subjects, a group of soldiers recently returned from Iraq. He focuses on men suffering from all manner of symptoms that doctors have called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Finkel calls it the “after-war.”
Of the soldiers who come home, “most are O.K,” he writes. “Others are not.” He’s interested in the latter, and his gaze is unrelenting. This is a book of suicide attempts and broken marriages, of war violence so shocking it gives men nightmares for years, of drugs and alcohol and cursing and arguments and war widows unable to process their grief and men crying as they think “it should have been me.”
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David Finkel will participate in a panel discussion called “Support Our Troops” at 11 a.m. Sunday in the House Chamber. He’ll appear with Taya Kyle, the widow of “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle.