Ann Jones, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2013. Review by Dr. Daniel Riehl, M. D.
Ann Jones (PhD), independent journalist and reporter embedded with American forces in Afghanistan reports on what wars do to our soldiers. Not allowed to talk to wounded soldiers, she spoke to medical personnel, all of whom said they had never seen such horrific wounds, “Amputees up to the waist. No arms. No legs. No genitals. Age 21 or 22. We cry.” She accompanies the wounded from triage and treatment in Afghanistan, flown in gigantic, windowless C-5 cargo planes to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where another team of medical specialists gives further treatment and repackages them (kept in a coma and strapped to gurneys) for flight to Walter Reed Hospital in the U.S.
She describes the new normal for returned soldiers, psychological problems, suicidal tendencies, addictions to pain pills, domestic violence, PTSD, difficulties in adjusting back to civilian life. “The damage that the catastrophic events of war inflict upon soldiers assumes a darker irony when traumatized soldiers return home to traumatize their partners and children….”
From John Ketwig’s review, “Ann Jones rails against the ‘God squad’ of Evangelical Christian chaplains who have infiltrated today’s military and created the impression….that U.S. military power is always ‘good’ and….’a necessary adjunct to the accomplishment of Christ’s saving mission.'”
“Contrary to common opinion in the United States, war is not inevitable. Nor has it always been with us. War is a human invention–an organized, deliberate action of an anti-social kind– and in the long span of human life on Earth, a fairly recent one…” p. 4
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