Commentary, Literature, Politics and Current Events

The honest voice of war

jacket imageToday’s Washington Post story about Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America chronicles the emergence as “a major player on the Hill” of the first nonpartisan organization dedicated to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The veterans’ group might not have the budget or membership or fancy clients of some of the lobbying shops that line K Street,” the Post notes. “But its leaders, most of whom are younger than 30, are keenly aware of the problems their unique constituency faces—post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, repeated tours—a fact that has helped the fledgling nonprofit group become a powerful voice for the 1.8 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan on this Veterans Day.”
For those of us who don’t work on Capitol Hill, Operation Homecoming tells the stories of those same veterans, in their own words. Called “the honest voice of war” by Jeff Shaara, this volume is the result of an initiative launched by the National Endowment for the Arts to bring distinguished writers to military bases to inspire U.S. soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and their families to record their wartime experiences. Encouraged by such authors as Tom Clancy, Tobias Wolff, and Marilyn Nelson, American military personnel and their loved ones wrote candidly about what they saw, heard, and felt while in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as on the home front. These unflinching eyewitness accounts, private journals, short stories, and letters offer an intensely revealing look into the extraordinary lives of soldiers and veterans.
As the Wall Street Journal noted, “One of the chanted mantras of our time is, ‘But I support the troops.’ Terrific. Now read Operation Homecoming to find out who they are, what they think, feel, want, have learned, won and lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.”