The Honor Was Mine

A very special post today on Isle of Books, as we remember the fallen on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. For all those who serve at home and abroad. For all those civilians who have lost their lives to terrorists. And for all those who gave their lives in service to their country. We remember you.

The Honor Was Mine by Elizabeth Heaney

When therapist Elizabeth Heaney left her private practice to counsel military service members and their families, she came face-to-face with unheard-of struggles and fears. Emotions run deeply—and often silently—in the hearts of combat veterans in this eye-opening portrait of the complex, nuanced lives of service personnel, who return from battling the enemy and grapple with readjusting to civilian life.

Presenting the soldiers’ stories—told in their own words—as well as her own story of change, Heaney offers an intimate perspective, not of war itself but of its emotional aftermath. Some of these stories scrape the bone; others are hopeful, even comical. Every one reveals the sacrifices of those on the front lines and the courage, grace, and honor with which they serve.

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(Book provided in exchange for an honest review)

When I was first contacted about reviewing this book, I admit I was very apprehensive. I don’t normally read memoirs. I almost never read books about war. And I never read books about the soldiers who fought in those wars.

I’m so glad I said yes to this one. The Honor Was Mine is a profoundly touching look at the soldiers who fight for our country.

In reading this book, I realized how little I really knew about our military. It’s only within the past couple years that I’ve gotten to know a few active duty and recently returned military service members. But even that is not on the level of what this book takes you to. She takes us deep into the complex emotions of those that have served and those that have stayed behind.  In particularly moving section, the author writes, “When soldiers deploy, there are theoretically three possibilities: (1) they come home, (2) they come home changed, or (3) they don’t make it home at all. But in reality, only the last two options occur.” The Honor Was Mine is a book about a war and the soldiers who weather the storm of change.

The author’s own personal journey as a military counselor is intertwined with the many stories of service members and their families. Heaney takes us into a side of the military that is rarely glimpsed by the public. We get to know a little bit about how the bases operate, what life is like for soldiers “downrange”, the military spouse community, and most strikingly, the work that is done to return a deceased soldier’s effects to their family. This last was especially eye opening. I never thought much about what happens to the belongings and I especially didn’t consider that someone, somewhere, was taking the time to wash and dry their clothing, polish their shoes, and scrub their belt buckle clean.

The content it itself is tremendous, but so is the writing. The author has a great command of language and the organization of the book and the chosen subheads result in a book that is hard to put down.

This book should be required reading for all Americans! I hope this book gains the attention it deserves!

 

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