4 out of 4 stars
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Healing Thru Service: The Warrior's Guidebook to Overcoming Trauma by Aaron Quinonez (Sgt Q) is a memoir, guide, and therapy session all wrapped in one. When Sgt Q decided to serve in the U.S. Marines, he was spurred on by the desire to serve his country. He knew that meant going to war and potentially losing his life, but in his own words, "[He] was ready to take the fight to the enemy. [He] was ready to rain lightning from the sky and bring thunder from the sea." However, his eight-year tenure was not as glorious as he had envisioned. Upon his return home, instead of feeling like a hero, he felt like a fraud. In this book, Sgt Q shares how living by faith and serving others helped him battle post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He also offers a comprehensive guide on how others in similar situations can triumph over trials through service.
There is a lot that I liked about this book. Firstly, the author's honesty. He did not hold back on details about his insecurities, fears, nightmares, divorce from his first wife, and relationship issues with his current wife. At the end of the book, he included the actual diary entries he made while deployed in Iraq. I found these quite difficult to get through because of the pain and trauma they described. These entries were also poetic and inundated with poignant imagery. For example, he talked about how "as the last point of light escapes from the darkness of the valley," in which the enemy troops had amassed, so too "did the light of the lantern escape from [his] soul."
In general, I found the book well-written and well-structured. Each chapter begins with a related quote by Sgt Q. However, I found it strange that he attributed Chapter 10's quote to himself. The quote is: "The more you sweat in training, the less you will bleed in battle." This quote is often attributed to Richard Marcinko, a retired U.S. Navy officer, and is considered by some to be one of the mottos of the Navy SEAL's. Nonetheless, this was just a minor issue. At the end of each chapter, the author provides a list of references for the different studies and literature he used. He also includes practical exercises that have helped him deal with PTSD and improve the overall quality of his life. Throughout, it was evident the book had been professionally edited, as I did not come across any grammatical or spelling errors.
I didn't particularly dislike anything in the book. However, I did find it peculiar that, despite the trauma he's faced as a result of serving in the U.S. Marines, Sgt Q had nothing negative to say about his military branch, or the U.S. military as a whole. In contrast, he was quick to express his pride in it. Through the QMissions program, Sgt Q has helped and continues to help numerous veterans deal with life after military service. In the book, he shared horrendous stories about the struggles some of these veterans have had with addiction, alcohol abuse, and even suicide. As such, I struggled to understand why he would hold in such high regard the very system that has brought him and his compatriots so much anguish and pain.
Despite this, I rate Healing Thru Service: The Warrior's Guidebook to Overcoming Trauma 4 out of 4 stars. I found the book useful, inspiring, and honest and have no reason to rate it lower. Fundamentally, this book aims to give U.S. military veterans tools to help them deal with PTSD and readjust to life after military service. However, it can also be useful to anyone facing difficult times. Even though Sgt Q presents the topics, for the most part, from the Christian perspective, I would still recommend this book to sufferers with different beliefs. The author provides mental, physical, and spiritual approaches for dealing with trauma. Therefore, it would be unfortunate for readers in need to miss out on the physical and mental tools simply because they don't identify with the spiritual ones. The book is devoid of vulgar and sexual references but due to its discussion on violence, alcohol, weaponry, etc. I wouldn't recommend it to younger readers.
Healing thru service
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