This post was written for www.mrslieutenant.blogspot.com and I have republished it here because it is relevant both to Jewish military personnel and to what we in the American Jewish community need to understand is the price that all soldiers pay for protecting our freedoms:
Theodore Knell’s book “From the Corners of a Wounded Mind” is a moving and powerful memoir of a soldier’s life.
The power of Knell’s story comes from what he writes about as well as by including his own poetry as part of his reflections. You can read one of his poems in the guest post he did – “Ex-British Special Forces Soldier Talks About His Experiences and His New Nonfiction Book”
This one poem doesn’t do justice to the amazing ability Knell has to capture the essence of his years as a soldier, including the effect of combat on soldiers.
His book concludes:
I hope that the next time you see a serviceman or woman, or the old man sitting on the homeless shelter steps, proudly brandishing a chest full of medals, you will pause for a moment and try to look beyond that confident, sometimes brash, some would even say arrogant exterior, to the person that lies within. A person who has worked hard, seen things that none of us should ever see, and in some cases suffered horrific injuries without complaint, someone who will continue to suffer in some way, either physically or mentally, but mostly in silence for the rest of their lives.
Only a few hours after reading the ending of Knell’s book, I read the Wall Street Journal April 2nd front-page article “Rx for Combat Stress: Comradeship” by Michael M. Phillips:
GARMSIR, Afghanistan—The morning after Chad Wade died, nobody wanted to walk point.
The Marines in Cpl. Wade’s squad no longer had to imagine what would happen if they stepped on a buried bomb. Now they had seen it, and the fresh memory of their friend’s shattered legs froze them in place.
When their squad leader, Sgt. Albert Tippett, lined them up for their next patrol, no one would pick up the metal detector used by the point man to clear a path through the mines.
The article goes on to explain “the new approach to combat stress that the Marine Corps wants to institutionalize.”
This new approach appears to be an antidote to what Knell describes so powerfully in his book – the reluctance of soldiers to talk about their horrifying experiences.
And for information on PTSD and its symptoms, see www.insupportofourtroops.com/ptsd-info/
March 22nd tweet on Twitter from @VeteranJournal: Suicide hotline available for deployed soldiers: http://ht.ly/4jJve