Matthew Green is a journalist who has spent some time working for Reuters, and was embedded with the United States Marine Corps during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Later, working for the Financial Times, he spent time with US forces in Helmand and Kandahar during the US troop surge.2009-2012. He wrote this book, he says “to answer a simple question: how does war break people and how best might they be healed?”
- Matthew Green
Over the course of the next seven chapters in Part One, he introduces us to a number of ex-servicemen and women, for whom coming home from a war had been marked with some form of mental anguish. He explores what it is like for those individuals to exist on a day-to-day basis. Alongside this he looks a the history of invisible wounds, from “shell-shock” in the First World War to what is described today as PTSD.
In eight chapters in Part Two, he examines in more detail the how traditional methods of treatment have been modified and new ones adopted. He looks at in-service treatment, and some of his subjects manage to negotiate the maze of Military Charities and transition to the NHS for treatment. He explores what it has been like for spouses and family, living with someone who has difficulty in coping. He concludes by looking at non-traditional therapies which have helped some people regain a useful life.
Overall, I found this book an engrossing read. The structure is logical and the chapters are short enough to be interesting but long enough to cover the subject. The language is clear and everyday and offers an unvarnished look at mental health provision, both inside and outside the armed forces. Green does not appear to be judgemental in the main parts of the book, reserving it, rightly, for his conclusion, in which he suggests that there is more that can be done.