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Shadow of the Sword: A Marine's Journey…

Shadow of the Sword: A Marine's Journey of War, Heroism, and…

by Jeremiah Workman

Other authors: John R. Bruning

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By sharing his experiences both during the war and afterward, Jeremiah Workman has created a book that can help civilians gain an understanding of what life is like for soldiers after they have come home from battle. Even more importantly, it unveils what it is like to live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and attempts to remove the stigma associated with it.

Jeremiah Workman's experiences in Iraq are, at times, hard to read about. His recollections of his time in battle (particularly one day of battle) are interspersed with his account of his day to day struggles of adapting to life once he has returned home to the United States. His family doesn't understand what he has been through, and they are completely unaware of the war scenes that are playing out constantly in his head.

His time spent in battle is horrific, and his retelling is detailed. Some of the experiences that he relates, such as seeing dead bodies in Iraqi streets, not to mention the battle scenes, are a bit graphic. In this case I think the graphic detail is completely justified though, because it helps the reader comprehend the gravity of what he went through, and why it affected him so strongly.

There is also a lot of swearing in the book, but this seems to be standard in the military memoirs that I have read. I would hazard a guess that this is because it reflects the use of profanity in the military, and also in the war (which makes sense to me because war is just about as stressful a situation as you can get).

Jeremiah Workman's memoir is an important book because it was written with the aim of helping others with PTSD. His book serves as an excellent way to create public awareness of what warriors experience when they come home, and even more importantly, will let other soldiers who are going through the same experiences know that they are not alone.

I highly recommend this military memoir to everyone. You never know when you might encounter someone in your daily life who is dealing with PTSD, and I think that this book has helped me to understand it better and hopefully to become more compassionate toward those who have PTSD. ( )
  akreese | May 16, 2013 |
`Shadow of the Sword' is a powerful and timely story that focuses on a Marine's battle with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The aptly named story toggles back and forth between the experiences of Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Workman, a recipient of the Navy Cross and nominee for the Congressional Medal of Honor, during the battle for Fallujah and his life and difficulties he faced upon returning stateside. This is a must-read book for anyone who even thinks that he or she may be experiencing PTSD symptoms.

SSgt. Workman's stark prose and first-person delivery beautifully expresses the unceasing razor's edge tension of life in combat and the bleak and colorless sense of disassociation that most veterans feel upon returning home. I would compare 'Shadow of the Sword' to the movie 'The Hurt Locker' as masterful portrayals of an American warrior's life in Iraq except that the events described in SSgt. Workman's book are not fiction.

Perhaps the most valuable point made in 'Shadow of the Sword' is to what degree SSgt. Workman stresses how the very elements that make American Soldiers and Marines such effective fighters serve to work against them when it comes to PTSD. Every step of their training is geared toward teaching them to unflinchingly endure the most stressful and grueling hardships. Wounds are to be shrugged off and any hint that combat experiences could have an affect on behavior is denied outright for to accept that notion is to admit weakness and weakness is failure. Despite his awards for bravery and unquestioned valor, Workman could not bring himself to feel anything but shame and guilt for his actions under fire. When a man such as he can openly discuss his experiences, the demons he battled and the wounds he suffered in his nation's service we can only hope that others will understand the truth of what is happening to them and reach out for the help they need and deserve.

Before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the government estimated that it would be treating 8,000 military personnel for PTSD. In 2007 the RAND Corporation reported that 700,000 combat veterans either have sought treatment or are likely to in the future. Swamped by this unexpected deluge of cases and its attendant backlog, the VA was reported 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans seen in its facilities. This statistic is especially sobering since RAND estimates that less than 40% with PTSD even seek treatment.

As a grateful nation we honor the sacrifices of these men and women. When these wars are over we want them home with us fully functioning and able to enjoy the peace that they helped create. Before they can, though, many will need our help to come out from the shadow of the sword and leave the ghosts of war behind them. ( )
  Unkletom | Mar 20, 2010 |
The true account of Marine Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Workman's time in Northern Fallujah Iraq and the impact it made on his life afterwards. Vividly describes the stark reality of the stress of war on an individual. Brings to light the startling facts of Post Traumatic Stress disorder, how it invades ones mind changing who they are, and the internal battle to learn to cope and go on each day. Honors the memory of those lost and the stories of those who survived.
Did not care for the structure and order in which the information was given. I do recommend that anyone who has a loved one in the military read this book to gain a better understanding of what our fighting men and women are enduring and for anyone who suffers from PTSD to be able to recognize that you are not alone and that there is help that can help you pull through ( )
  Altarasabine | Oct 19, 2009 |
This is the second book on PTSD by a US Marine from the Iraq War I have recently read. PTSD, which stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a term used after Vietnam, and also use to be called Battle Fatigue after World War II or Combat Stress now in Iraq, can be a lasting and severe form of stress for anyone who has experience extreme degrees of trauma. This is a fast read by Navy Cross recipient Sgt. Jeremiah Workman and is co-written with John R. Bruning. As we read this book we follow an active duty Marine who has returned to the U.S.A. after combat duty in Iraq where his life is altered because of the trauma of combat he lived through.

I feel reading this book that Sgt. Workman honestly relates the details of his home life and military career and how the PTSD starts to affect them both. As you continue to read we learn that the cause of the trauma for Sgt. Workman is caused by a single horrific day of combat he cannot put out of his mind. It is a sad fact that many military personnel will try and hide the fact they are suffering from this trauma because of the perceived stigma attached to it and the affect it will have on their military career.

We learn this event for Sgt. Workman was a brutal time experienced one day while clearing a block in Fallujah where a fierce firefight broke out. Through flashbacks and dreams the details of the firefight are fleshed out and brought to life. His insightful telling of his memory of that day of urban combat haunts him and affects his daily life. The memory of this event and how he interrupts what he did or did not do is relived over and over again. The Sgt. has to learn to live and function with his damaged psyche and fight his own personal battle now that he is no longer in combat.

Sgt. Workman is a hero not only for his actions in battle but also for working to make the best of his life for himself and his family. Readers of this book will have a better understanding of what combat veterans have to live with every day and should be so grateful that these men and women answer the call to that type of duty so most do not have too. I highly recommend that everyone read this book especially veterans and their families. ( )
  hermit | Aug 15, 2009 |
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John R. Bruningsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 034551212X, Hardcover)

Awarded the Navy Cross for gallantry under fire, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Workman is one of the Marine Corps’ best-known contemporary combat veterans. In this searing and inspiring memoir, he tells an unforgettable story of his service overseas–and of the emotional wars that continue to rage long after our fighting men come home.

Raised in a tiny blue-collar town in Ohio, Jeremiah Workman was a handsome and athletic high achiever. Having excelled on the sporting field, he believed that the Marine Corps would be the perfect way to harness his physical and professional drives.

In the Iraqi city of Fallujah in December 2004, Workman faced the challenge that would change his life. He and his platoon were searching for hidden caches of weapons and mopping up die-hard insurgent cells when they came upon a building in which a team of fanatical insurgents had their fellow Marines trapped. Leading repeated assaults on that building, Workman killed more than twenty of the enemy in a ferocious firefight that left three of his own men dead.

But Workman’s most difficult fight lay ahead of him–in the battlefield of his mind. Burying his guilt about the deaths of his men, he returned stateside, where he was decorated for valor and then found himself assigned to the Marine base at Parris Island as a “Kill Hat”: a drill instructor with the least seniority and the most brutal responsibilities. He was instructed, only half in jest, to push his untested recruits to the brink of suicide. Haunted by the thought that he had failed his men overseas, Workman cracked, suffering a psychological breakdown in front of the men he was charged with leading and preparing for war.

In Shadow of the Sword, a memoir that brilliantly captures both wartime courage and its lifelong consequences, Workman candidly reveals the ordeal of post-traumatic stress disorder: the therapy and drug treatments that deadened his mind even as they eased his pain, the overwhelming stress that pushed his marriage to the brink, and the confrontations with anger and self-blame that he had internalized for years.

Having fought through the worst of his trials–and now the father of a young son–Workman has found not perfection or a panacea but a way to accommodate his traumas and to move forward toward hope, love, and reconciliation.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:23 -0400)

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