Affecting memoir by wounded veteran and PTSD–treatment advocate Montalván (Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him, 2011), well known for his public appearances with his service dog, Tuesday.
“I’ve never sat down and calculated the thousands and thousands of miles we’ve traveled together, but I do know this much: The longest journey of all was the one inside my head.” So writes Purple Heart recipient Montalván, whose body was shattered in combat in Iraq and who suffered the well-documented travails of stress upon his return. In the company of Tuesday, an affable golden retriever with dancing eyebrows, the author worked his way out of the solitude of an apartment and began to advocate for veterans’ rights across the country. Montalván’s tone ranges from the affectionate to the aggrieved, just as his narrative ranges from an inspirational encounter with a withdrawn Tuskegee Airman to some difficult passages describing what it feels like to be blown up, to lose a limb—and, moreover, to be sculpted surgically to accommodate a prosthetic leg: “My leg—or where my leg had been that morning—felt weird and slightly indescribable. But it didn’t hurt anymore, and I can’t tell you what a relief that absence of pain felt like to me.” It makes a sad denouement to know that the author, who writes hopefully of a continued life of advocacy and travel with Tuesday, committed suicide after finishing the book. His co-author offers the similarly hopeful thought that “Luis is waiting in a meadow somewhere for his beloved Tuesday,” but the event should reinforce Montalván’s insistence that American combat veterans need more and better support from the government that sent them in harm’s way.
Speaking to both animal welfare and the well-being of wounded warriors, Montalván’s memoir is a testimonial to the “quest for wholeness” and the healing power of companionship.