This first-of-its-kind compilation of original prose, poetry, and art is written by veterans — primarily Vietnam vets, yet with contributions by veterans of World War II, Korea, and Desert Storm — with combat-induced trauma disorders. Soldier’s Heart seeks to illuminate the range of emotions and reactions to diagnosis that often characterize individuals healing from PTSD. In the process, this book offers survivors and their families a sense of community, helping to dispel the isolation frequently felt by people with trauma disorders.
Contributions for this book were solicited from veterans outreach programs, military service organizations, and at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. They were selected and edited by the National Trauma Institute at Baltimore, a non-profit organization founded to promote the study and treatment of trauma-related disorders. The editorial board includes a Marine Vietnam veteran and his wife, as well as trauma treatment professionals.
The 200 works in Soldier’s Heart depict an outpouring of emotion which covers all aspects of combat trauma. The book begins with the awareness that something is wrong, and then moves through the frustrations of seeking help. Soldier’s Heart ends with veterans’ attempts to make sense of their ordeal and live in peace with the society around them: “…reclaiming my life, molecule by molecule… climbing out of the shadow of war.” Spouses, therapists, friends, families, and those who would like to understand — from the veteran’s point of view — what the long-term consequences of trauma can be are invited to read and share the words of those who live the experience.
This book is an inspirational and poignant look at the many lessons that can be learned from those who served proudly, yet have the psychological scars which come from military service in time of war. There is a clear message of renewal and hope in this book. I heartily recommend Soldier’s Heart.
-Jan Scruggs, Director, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
“Soldier’s Heart is highly recommended reading for combat veterans and those who care about them.”
–The Midwest Book Review
“Soldier’s Heart reveals the undeniable impact of combat trauma on the lives of veterans and their families 20 years after Vietnam, and — even more startling — 50 years after World War II. It is an important addition to the body of knowledge on combat trauma; is written from the hearts of veterans and their families; and is compelling evidence of their courage and tenacity.”
-Paul E. Skoglund, Executive Director, Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc.
“Soldier’s Heart, and the feelings contained therein, clearly illustrate that the effects of horrors of combat cut across generations of veterans — and their loved ones — regardless of the war in which they served.”
-John F. Sommer, Jr., Executive Director, The American Legion; Combat Medic, 4th Infantry Division, Vietnam ’68
“The book is testimony to the psychological and spiritual effects of war trauma, the ongoing healing of veterans, their families, and our nation, expressed by those who were in it. The veterans and their families who have gone through this healing process are indeed an inspiration and source of hope for all survivors of trauma, especially those survivors of trauma intentionally inflicted by our own kind.”
-Al Batres, Ph.D., Vietnam Veteran
“The stories and poems struck me like an air strike. I have read many, many books on pre- and post-war Vietnam, searching for the ‘Why?’ and the ‘Why me?’ This book was one of the most gripping I have read.”
-Mark E.S. Bjishkian, U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, Combat Veteran
“In this unique book, veterans and those who love them — their family members, friends, and therapists — share openly, honestly, and powerfully what it’s like to live with combat stress and to venture forth into the healing process… This book is a ‘must’ for anyone who wants a glimpse into a soldier’s heart.”
-Aphrodite Matsakis, author, Vietnam Wives, psychologist in private practice and with the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and the Vet Center Outreach Program in Washington, D.C.