Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review - Lethal Warriors: When a New Band of Brothers Came Home - Uncovering the Tragic Reality of PTSD

Lethal Warriors: When a New Band of Brothers Came Home – Uncovering the Tragic Reality of PTSD by David Philipps, Palgrave  Macmillan, 2010

Lethal Warriors is a journalist tour de force about the 506th Infantry Regiment, the WWII “Band of Brothers” and the horrific crimes a group of young veterans from the unit commit in Colorado Springs after multiple tours of duty in Iraq. Philipps’ adroit handling of the chilling true story of these “lethal warriors” sheds a bright light on their struggles with severe PTSD and failure to reintegrate into society. Moreover as his story progresses it becomes apparent that as crime after crime is committed, the loyalty nurtured by the Lethal Warriors “down range” morphed into a twisted code of silence that enabled these soldiers to slip deeper into self destruction from alcohol to drug use to violence and ultimately, multiple killings. Story after story demonstrates what happens when reflexive fire training, combat stress, negligent leadership at home and drugs and alcohol are combined. While Philipps focuses primarily on the crime spree, he does not neglect those who worked assiduously to address the issue of combat stress, particularly General Mark Graham who was commander of Fort Carson during this time.  Near closure there is a chapter devoted to the EPICON finding, a research effort into the destructive pattern of behavior at Fort Carson conducted by a team of physicians and PdDs in 2008. The EPICON findings spurred the national Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, a nationwide initiative to counteract the effects of combat stress. This excellent book is a “must read” for any mental health provider who intends to work with military service members with mental health needs.  It is also appropriate for veterans and family members who are able to handle the graphic descriptions of violence but is not appropriate for readers under 16. 

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