A savvy political observer presents his report on some veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan after they return home.
With characteristic episodic verve, Klein (Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized by People Who Think You're Stupid, 2006, etc.) tells of a few stalwart fighters who apply the skills they learned in the military to address civilian needs worldwide. Now, their continuing mission (“Charlie Mike” in military jargon) is the easing of misfortune at home and abroad. The devotion to his fellow fighters is what impelled Eric Greitens, a potent Navy SEAL and Rhodes Scholar with an Oxford doctorate, to organize a veterans’ group called The Mission Continues. Reading of the earthquake and chaos in Haiti, former Marine Jake Wood formed Team Rubicon and outfitted a forward operating base, complete with relief supplies, in a matter of days. For these former soldiers, public service is always the objective, and they deliver those who are best trained to effectively organize, deploy, and accomplish truly difficult jobs. These include veterans of elite units, sniper schools, recon intelligence, and other military organizations, and they readily transfer their unique abilities to civilian needs. And they care. Klein’s brief personal stories of these extraordinary men and women whose lives were marked by war are enlightening and powerful. He graphically depicts their training, their war experiences, and their efforts to cope with civilian ignorance. PTSD is often rampant, and many are haunted by the losses of buddies during combat. The most common hazard at home is suicide. Romances sour, and friendships and family relations suffer. The fellowship is often all that mattered—that and the job. “What worked was work,” writes the author. Ever the insightful reporter, he captures the conversational rhythm and vernacular of these remarkable warriors who have refitted their service to civilian life.
The compelling story of a continuing mission, rendered with sympathy and verisimilitude.