Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital
Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft (LCmdr, Ret)
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.
--M*A*S*H: TV show
One of the remarkable things happening in today's military and today's war zones is the phenomenal writing that is occurring from the front lines in the form of blogs and books. Today, we are brought closer to the thoughts and feelings and experiences of our military through the written word, and they do it so well. Anyone wanting to know more about the War on Terror and our military has access to the information (see my recommendations on the sidebar.)
Rule Number Two is a collection of the experiences of Navy Lieutenant Commander Heidi Kraft during her deployment as a clinical psychologist with a Marine Corps Surgical Unit in Al Asad, Iraq. Dr. Kraft shares with us the stories of the damages of war and the amazing stories of repair of the spirit and the body. She also shares her longing for home and her 15 month old twins, jutaposing her life in Iraq with her family at home. There are stories that will make your heart soar, make you laugh out loud and make you cry. There is an especially gruesome story of her smallpox vaccination and one about camel spiders that are unforgetable!
Dr. Kraft allows us to share her laughter, her tears, her joys and her fears. This is a wonderfully readable book, and difficult to put down, as Dr Kraft weaves us into her stories. We meet the Marines, the Navy Corpsmen, the Navy doctors, nurses, technicians and the Marine working dogs.
Some of the most vivid stories are those of Cpl Jason Dunham. When Cpl Dunham was wounded, Dr Kraft was one of the people who sat and held his hand and talked to him. Cpl Dunham, who died later from his wounds, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courage and bravery and sacrifice that day when he threw himself on a grenade to save his men. In later chapters, Dr Kraft shares the story of his passing and the story of his mother's, Deb Dunham, letter to Dr. Kraft to thank her for holding Jason's hand and caring for him. They are stories that will touch your heart.
One of the greatest gifts of this book is the peek into the medical care provided to our warriors - the love, care and respect they are given. This is a remarkable book and I recommend it to anyone interested in life in a war zone and in a hospital in a war zone.
(I received this book as a free preview copy from the publisher.)