by LiveTrue Book Reviewer, Melanie Davis
The horror of war is the hottest fire of difficulty to endure. Those who come out on the other side of these flames and write about it bring treasured words to the world. In Healing the Warrior Heart: A Glimpse Into the Hearts of Combat Veterans and their Supporting Loved Ones we experience the words of those who intimately know how adversity can deepen the soul and bring profound wisdom.
Take Andrew Jones. He is a combat veteran whose thoughts and words heal the hearts of his comrades-in-arms, especially in the face of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In Healing the Warrior Heart Andrew combines his works with many other veterans and their supporting loved ones into a powerful and profound anthology of stories and poems which describe the battles in faraway lands, as well as the fierce wars waged in the minds and souls of the survivors. It is raw and real, yet is full of hope, which has the capacity to heal all who read it, veteran or civilian.
Although depicting moments of war, destruction, death and the ensuing guilt, Andrew’s writing contains love, optimism and understanding. In his first piece, titled “Al Gharraf,” Andrew recounts one of the fiercest battles he faced. In reading it, you’ll the sense the smells and hear sounds of his experience. Yet from this hell, he describes it as a miraculous experience. He also writes of his brother-in-arms, Roxley, who was wounded with bullets flying all around him, “He always had a force field around him and when he was near me, it extended around me as well.”
In Healing the Warrior Heart Andrew gives voice to many others, both veterans and the family members who suffer right alongside their loved ones. Their writings demonstrate the varied paths out of the painful pit of PTSD towards peace. Diana Mankin Phelps is a contributing author whose Marine son, Aaron Mankin, was badly burned in an IED (improvised explosive device) explosion. He literally gave his face and hands for our country. Her wisdom from the experience of watching her son fight through his injuries is applicable to all of us. In discussing her son’s approach to his adversity, she advises, “No matter what is going on around you or with you, the way you react and handle yourself will be the guide to how others deal with the task at hand. Aaron’s light always shines through, because he chooses to let it.”
Healing the Warrior Heart is a powerful tool being used in the veteran support world. It has been adopted by an outreach program with a similar name, Healing Warrior Hearts, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Reading this book as a civilian, I was captivated by the spirit of patriotism expressed by the authors and their willingness to suffer so much for the freedom of our country. I feel it is extremely important for all of us to know the sacrifices that have been made for us, and to strive to understand the challenges and needs of our veterans when they come home. Andrew’s book accomplishes this while providing soul searching and life-changing messages which directly apply to each of us, as we are all fighting personal battles in our journey through life. Because of the similarity between actual war and inner struggles, veterans can truly become our most valuable mentors.