Contents of blog copyright Book Dragon's Lair 2009-2017
It's been an interesting year so far. I've lost both my Moms. My mother died in January after a long decline. Soon after, my Mother-in-Law went in for bypass surgery. While her heart healed, other issues zapped her strength and she died April 22.

I may have challenge update posts but I don't know when I'll be posting regularly or when I'll get to visit everyone who is working on the challenges I'm hosting.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Soft Spots


Soft Spots
A Marine's Memoir of Combat and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Clint Van Winkle


Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: March 3, 2009
format: hardcover
pages: 224
Ages:
genre: memoir

from the publisher
A powerful, haunting, provocative memoir of a Marine in Iraq—and his struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in a system trying to hide the damage done.

Marine Sergeant Clint Van Winkle flew to war on Valentine’s Day 2003. His battalion was among the first wave of troops that crossed into Iraq, and his first combat experience was the battle of Nasiriyah, followed by patrols throughout the country, house to house searches, and operations in the dangerous Baghdad slums.

But after two tours of duty, certain images would not leave his memory—a fragmented mental movie of shooting a little girl; of scavenging parts from a destroyed, blood-spattered tank; of obliterating several Iraqi men hidden behind an ancient wall; and of mistakenly stepping on a “soft spot,” the remains of a Marine killed in combat. After his return home, Van Winkle sought help at a Veterans Administration facility, and so began a maddening journey through an indifferent system that promises to care for veterans, but in fact abandons many of them.

From riveting scenes of combat violence, to the gallows humor of soldiers fighting a war that seems to make no sense, to moments of tenderness in a civilian life ravaged by flashbacks, rage, and doubt, Soft Spots reveals the mind of a soldier like no other recent memoir of the war that has consumed America.


My thoughts
Clint Van Winkle has invited us into his life and into his nightmares. He'll be sitting in a bar sharing "normal" life with us but when the news comes on; the ghosts come out - and not just the dead ones.

The writing flows so smoothly between current events, nightmares and memories that it took awhile to get use to it. One minute we're sitting in the living room drinking a beer and the next paragraph we're sitting in Iraq. It happened that fast for him, it happens that fast for us.

This book taught me to be angry. If a minority of our Vets are treated this way, the whole system needs to be taken out and shot.
Even the Jade Clinic's waiting room seemed inhospitable and cold. The staff's apathy fit right in with the surroundings and they seemed as if they had been specifically handpicked to dole out subpar service. Disheartening isn't a strong enough word to describe what I felt as I watched my fellow veterans being ignored.*
He mentions some good people in the system but as a whole it leaves a lot to be desired.

This book also taught me appreciation. I've always thought of the military as a group, almost a single body where the feet are very important but still a single body. Now I know it is individuals. The military is made up of people that have the roughest job ever.

Is there a happy ending? Can there ever be a happy ending for a Marine with PTSD? I cried and I laughed and cried some more. Once the story sucked me in it was finished the next day.

Read it. Think about it. Tell your friends. Thank a Vet.

content warning very realistic war memories

*pg 86 of the Advance Readers' Edition

Buy link at amazon: Soft Spots: A Marine's Memoir of Combat and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


Amazon.com Sales Rank, as of 9-15: #113,639 in Books

#22 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Mental Health > Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

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In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Book Dragon's Lair. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won in some kind of contest, or received in exchange for an honest review.