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Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a…
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Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital

by Heidi Squier Kraft

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    In the Land of Invisible Women by Qanta Ahmed (infiniteletters)
    infiniteletters: Contrasting cultures, but similar medical perspectives. Do no harm.
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Clinical Psychologist Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft was a clinical psychologist at the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, FLA. She along with several other medical personnel were being sent to Iraq. This was in 2003 in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom during which many such teams had already been deployed and some had returned to a different world.

Her greatest initial challenge was preparing herself for her separation from her children but before a few weeks were up she was entrenched in a MASH unit that deep in the combat zone of Iraq, which was being bombarded daily and receiving mass casualties and missing her family. “In a world where rockets exploded randomly nearby, I decided I could not be a combat psychologist and a mother at the same time. I had to be one or the other. I had no choice. I put their pictures away.”

And so she and her team began their grueling ordeal of tending to the mental and emotional problems of wounded marines, shocked survivors of terrible traumas as well as being on hand for the difficulties of the medical teams themselves who were experiencing events that were new to them all. Kraft’s book is filled with stories that make you reflect.One soldier said “No one wants to hear what we do over here. Even people who love us. They think they do, but they don’t.’

Hawkeye Pierce of the TV show M*A*S*H was counseled by his Colonel about the rules of war. :
Rule number one is that young men die.
Rule number two is that doctors can’t change rule number one.

This microcosm of the war can be summed up in one phrase “ We did the best we could.”

10% of the profits of Rule Number Two go to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund provides financial assistance to: Marines injured in combat and in training and other service members injured while in direct support of Marine units and their families.

( )
  Condorena | Apr 2, 2013 |
Kraft was a navy psychologist who was sent to Iraq for 7 months. This memoir recounts her deployment. She and her team seem to have spent much of their time doing immediate response for medical traumas, some critical incident debriefing, emergency psychiatric evaluation, and regular appointments. This is described against the backdrop of Kraft's wrenching separation from her young twins.

I would have wished for more technical descriptions of the therapeutic work. While Kraft goes into her countertransference and other emotional responses, I'd have liked to read about this in a deeper context, even if it was in composite cases ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
Heidi Kraft was a US Navy psychologist happily married to a Marine and raising her 15 month old twins when on short notice she was shipped out to Iraq to be part of a medical support team for combat troops (think M*A*S*H*, only in Iraq). While there she kept a journal to help her keep her sanity and when she came home she used that journal to write this book. The book is written in episodic fashion, giving us an understanding of what life is like for both the Marines and the Navy medical support teams. This form lets us see both the horrific aspects and some of the redeeming episodes that keep both the military personal and the reader able to bear the story. Occasionally there is even a little humor. This book is not long and was a fairly quick read for me. As Elie Wiesel does in [Night], Kraft gives us enough to understand the horror she lived through without overwhelming us or making us numb.

Bottom line:

This book is a paean to the human spirit, to the military who serve our country in combat zones and the people who are there to support them both physically and mentally when they need it. Highly recommended ( )
  MusicMom41 | Jul 24, 2009 |
"There are two rules of war. Rule number one is that young men die. Rule number two is that doctors can't change rule number one."

This is a well written story of a young female Navy clinical psychologist who is sent to a field Marine surgical unit (think MASH) in Fallugah Iraq at the height of the battle in Feb 2004. She left behind her 15 mo old twins in the care of her parents and her husband (a Marine pilot). It's an incredibly honest, compassionate, compelling, and heartwrenching story of her tour of duty and the heroes she counts herself privileged to serve with. I count her as one of the heroes.

The book is not long, not technical and 'easy' to read on the one hand--the prose is sharp and clear. However, It is difficult to read about a young woman separated from her family, enduring incredible hardships, but able to help those Marines both younger and older than herself to not only endure and function, but survive with some humanity. With people like Heidi Kraft taking care of us, we will remain a strong country. ( )
  tututhefirst | Jun 6, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316067903, Hardcover)

When Lieutenant Commander Heidi Kraft's twin son and daughter were fifteen months old, she was deployed to Iraq. A clinical psychologist in the US Navy, Kraft's job was to uncover the wounds of war that a surgeon would never see. She put away thoughts of her children back home, acclimated to the sound of incoming rockets, and learned how to listen to the most traumatic stories a war zone has to offer.
One of the toughest lessons of her deployment was perfectly articulated by the TV show M*A*S*H: "There are two rules of war. Rule number one is that young men die. Rule number two is that doctors can't change rule number one." Some Marines, Kraft realized, and even some of their doctors, would be damaged by war in ways she could not repair. And sometimes, people were repaired in ways she never expected. RULE NUMBER TWO is a powerful firsthand account of providing comfort admidst the chaos of war, and of what it takes to endure.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:46 -0400)

When Lt. Cmdr. Kraft's twin son and daughter were fifteen months old, she was deployed to Iraq. A clinical psychologist in the US Navy, Kraft's job was to uncover the wounds that a surgeon would never see. She put away thoughts of her children back home, acclimated to the sound of incoming rockets, and learned how to listen to the most traumatic stories a war zone has to offer. One of the toughest lessons of her deployment was perfectly articulated by the TV show M*A*S*H: "There are two rules of war. Rule number one is that young men die. Rule number two is that doctors can't change rule number one." Some Marines, Kraft realized, and even some of their doctors, would be damaged by war in ways she could not repair. And sometimes, people were repaired in ways she never expected.--From publisher description.… (more)

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