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"Thank You For Your Service" by David Finkel is an intimate story that tells story about the former soldiers and severity of their integration back into society.

Somehow this is a sequel to his previously published work "The Good Soldiers" where author introduced us the soldiers of one Infantry Battalion that left for Iraq.
Their return is described in this book and reader can realize how changed they become due to their experience not matter how short it was, someone malicious could say.

These are people who have wounds that are invisible on first sight, they don't lack any of the limbs or are disabled in common sense, that would have probably helped them to be seen as victims. Instead they have PTSD and TMI, problems that are still a mysterious to most people and often misused, thereby often belittle.

We see how is difficult for them to continue living their normal lives, with their families but also on general level how difficult their society reintegration is.

The title of the book is made in somehow ironic way because this is a sentence they've been hearing lot of times since they came back but anyone besides themselves and their families know and can't understand how difficult is to be back, how strange it feels to start living again normal life after all the shocking events they've been through.

The author writes without any hesitation, his stories are powerful while he portrays former soldiers as broken men together with their families that became broken due to their war experience.
He writes about suicides, about the people who are feeling exploited due to someone's unreasonable goals but in general he writes about the people who fought for their country in this or previous wars that besides receiving "Thank You For Your Service" sentence didn't receive any particular help in order to continue living normal life.

"Thank You for Your Service" is book that is brutally honest and intimate in same time, which shows us that the same courage that was expected from those men during the war, if not greater, is needed to them to continue to live with all that they went through.

Due to that, I can fully recommend you to read this deeply moving and intimate story of human courage.
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David Finkel was ideally placed for writing two important books. He was "embedded," to use the Pentagon's expression which conveys its preferred method of improving the journalist "spin" on a war, with the 2/16th Infantry, during the "surge" of American forces in Iraq in 2007-08. His book on the unit's experience The Good Soldiers won numerous awards. This is a sequel, of sorts, concerning what happened to a select group of these soldiers once they returned to the States.

Finkel provides the important context for his sequel. He says that two million American soldiers have served in either Afghanistan or Iraq. He claims that 20-30% of the soldiers who deployed to these theaters now suffer from some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), percentages that I think must be on the high side. The experience of the men of the 2/16th were far more intense, and therefore not typical of the vast majority of soldiers. The author does not address why PTSD seems to be so much higher than other wars, though probable reasons are the multiple tours of duty and the "disconnect" with the American civilian population that is totally unaffected by the war. The author explains his methodology which involves reconstructing the dialogue of the principle characters. And the dialogue seemed to be authentic to me. He also says that he obtained the agreement of the soldiers and their families to write the story as Finkel saw it, without prior approval. All fair enough, so the stage is now set, and it is mainly in America's heartland, near Ft. Riley, Kansas, where their unit is based when not in Iraq.

It is the story of 10-15 individuals, all of whom are grabbling with the trauma caused by their participation in America's wars in the 21st century. Adam Schumann was on his third tour of Iraq when his mind simply shut down with a determination of "enough." He and his wife Saskia, are two of the principals in Finkel's account. Amanda Doster was widowed, losing her husband, Sergeant First Class, James Doster, age 37. Tausolo Aieti came to the Army, and thence Iraq, via the impoverished Pacific island of American Samoa, where the Army recruiter never has difficulty fulfilling his quota. Kristy Robinson is in the book due to the suicide death of her husband, Jessie. It was road-side bombs, in Army lingo, IED's, that transformed their lives. Patti Walker is a counselor, trying to ensure these soldiers and others obtain the treatment needed to address their trauma. (Her husband is also one that suffers from PTSD). Finkel covers three of the programs: one administered by the VA in nearby Topeka, another by a private company in Pueblo, Colorado, and a third in California, "the Pathway house," operated privately on land at the VA home for soldiers. There is no standard treatment; each program varies considerably. The author also covers the efforts of the senior leadership in the Army to prevent suicides, in particular, as conducted by Vice Chief of Staff, General Peter Chiarelli. (Each suicide is reviewed by a special group in Washington, with an emphasis on "the lessons learned.") The ending is brilliant, and underscores the continued Congressional indifference to these men's (and women's) blight. I also felt that the "snapshot" pictures, in the tradition of cinema vérité, enhanced the book.

Though I was not surprised at the mental trauma experienced by these soldiers who had endured multiple tours, I was surprised that considerable effort, despite its short-comings, was being expended to address this trauma. (In terms of short-comings, one of the saddest cases involved one family that had to fake incest and child-molestation in order to get treatment.) Nonetheless, I was also surprised that Finkel did not address one of the most effective treatments, and its lack: meaningful employment. And intertwined with the issue of employment may be the negative stereotyping of all veterans based on these accounts of a few who were in intense combat.

The title is aptly sardonic. It is that most hollow expression that Federal workers are taught to say to veterans, usually as an addendum to the explanation why they can do absolutely nothing for them. Finkel's account is well-researched and a heart-felt "epilogue" to the fate of the men (and women) who chose to be where the bombs happen to fall. 5-stars.
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on 4 December 2013
An incredible book which I really found offered an upsetting insight into the hardship suffered not just by America's soldiers but even more so by their families and loved ones. Not sure the Pentagon will be too pleased as the support offered to those who have served their country and are suffering as much mental pain as physical don't seem to be as well cared for after the battles as they were prior to and during the conflict. " Thank you for your service " should be compulsory reading for the top brass. These guys deserve a lot more than sympathy from readers.
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on 16 October 2014
This book gives humbling insight into the damaged minds of American Servicemen, victims of PTSD, returning from our new age wars. It powerfully demonstrates war on a second front - at home - where wives and family try valiantly to come to terms with this changed, returning warrior. The tragedy experienced by them all is gutting. Attempts made by the forces to help and support these terribly damaged people is touching ......... but the bottom line is forcibly brought home to us all. War ruins all the lives it touches.
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on 3 June 2014
I read the previous book (The Good Soldiers), so it was really interesting to see what happened next. Compelling and scary.
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on 23 May 2014
Just let me say. If there was one book on my reading list from this past year that I would recommend people read it is this. Such an incredible story that makes you really root for the people the author is talking about. I loved the writing style and the way the author tackled such a sensitive subject. It shows incredibly well how soldiers struggle after coming home from war and doesn't censor what the cost of war really is.
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on 15 September 2014
A simply written factual account of the personal experience endured by too many people far too frequently. A good sense of perspective keeps the narrative from becoming 'mawkish'!
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on 25 January 2014
This is a superbly written well investigated book showing the forgotten public side of war. If you read one book this year make it this one
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on 4 March 2016
This is just a very very good book. Read it
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on 20 May 2015
Arrived with lightening speed. Impressed.
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