Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our First review on amazon.comuk !

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply moving and affecting book, 28 Dec 2011
This review is from: Shade It Black (Hardcover)

I really wasnt sure what to expect with this book, but after a few pages the honesty and clarity with which Jessica Goodell recounts her experiences and thoughts hooked me. Some aspects of the book are horrific, but done in a factual and objective way which help you understand the emerging themes of the book about the institutionalisation of the US Marines (and there is some excellent commentary in the book around the perception of female marines) and the impact of the mortuary affairs work that Jessica Goodell undertook. The genius of the book for me is that it deals with the development of traumatic stress but without painting the author as a 'victim' throughout - the style of writing and the emotional intelligence of Jessica Goodell is jaw-dropping.

This is the last book i'll read in 2011 and one that will stay with me long into the future.

A Note of Thanks From Afghanistan

I want to thank Jessica for writing all her experiences down. As a member of a parachute infantry unit in Canada I have often had negative views of the fact that we allow females in our combat arms. After reading the book ( I am in Afghanistan as I write this and couldnt put it down once I started, so it took about 10 hours) I have a completely new outlook on the female side of things, and how tough it must be to be singled out.

Jess, as someone who has been in combat situations, and seen friends blown into pieces, I dont know how you were able to find the strength to do the job you did, and to come back and be able to dig yourself out of that hole and start a positive change. The memories we have from Iraq, and Afghanistan will stay with us forever, but the writing of people like you make it easier for people to find others to relate to. Thank you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Writing Reminds This Reader of the Desert

Here is a brief review that appeared two weeks ago on Readerman.com:

Like the desert

Shade it Black, Death and After in Iraq by Jess Goodell with John Hearn; 2011; $24.95; 191 pages; Casemate Publishers, Havertown, PA; 978-1-61200-001-5; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 11/16-11/19
Why did I pick this up? My dad recommended it and I am always trying to understand what we are asking our soldiers to do and how it affects them.  I do not want to be one of the old men sending the young people off to war without knowing how it will affect them and us.  I am about to get up on my soapbox.  Why is it old people who send the young to war when they are the ones instigating things.  Why not have the leaders have a boxing match?  And while I am up here, why are the rich able to buy their childrens way out of conflict.  Now you got me started, but I am going to climb off the soap box and review the book.
What is the story? Jess Goodell is part of a platoon that is tasked with gathering, identifying and preparing the remains of Marines killed in Iraq.  She recounts her experiences as a Marine of a minority gender, as a member of a unit that is tasked with a gruesome mission.   She speaks of the mental trauma that she encountered through her tour in Iraq and how it has affected her life after the Corps.  She does so in an engaging yet very terse style.  She communicates well with a minimum of words.    One thing that really struck a chord was in her thinking of esprit de corp, that what is a cohesive unit when all it’s member share a goal, dissolves once the goal is no longer shared.  It is something that I think anyone who has been in the military or a member of a sports team has experienced.  I think that dissolution of the group would be hard to deal with due to the tightness encountered by those in traumatic situations such as combat.
Did I like it? Yes, I was moved by the authors ability to convey intense emotion with a brevity.  I was moved by her ability to share what she was going through and to convey that well enough that others could understand a small part of what she went through.
Grade-A
What is with the title of the review? Jess Goodell writes like the desert she writes of.  Stark and desolate but capable of eliciting strong emotion.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Student's Take on the Book

This is from Andi, a student at Jamestown Community College, where John, the book's co-author, works:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shade it Black





For my autobiography/memoir I'm reading Shade it Black by Jess Goodell. I learned about this book last year in my sociology class with John Hearn. We were discussing the effects on war on people, specifically the soldiers, and the subject of suicide. He brought up the website in class and played the song on the site which was depressing. I don't think everyone caught on, but his name was on the website too... he helped Goodell write this book. She was one of his former students.





Goodell writes about what it was like to be a Marine in the Mortuary Affairs. The MA troops had volunteered to go on this mission to collect the bodies of fellow American soldiers. Sometimes in the case of explosions, body parts would be missing. This is where the title Shade it Black comes from. The MA Marines had a piece of paper with an outline of a person's front perspective and the outline of a person's back perspective. The areas of the body that were missing were shaded black. It was a gruesome task and took it's toll on all of the Marines that were involved with this job. They'd smell like the bodies they collected. Whenever it was time to eat the "chow" smelled like the bodies... burnt meat... so meals were either skipped or thrown back up. During high body count periods of time the MA Marines lost weight and during lower body count times the MA Marines would gain a little bit back. Other Marines of different platoons didn't want anything to do with them either. They didn't like the smell and thought that the MA platoon was bad luck.



The author also writes how being a female effects how you're viewed in the Corps, as well. If you can't do something, it isn't because you're weak or out of shape like some of the male troops are. It's because you're female and you just aren't able to do it because you don't have the right "parts" or so to speak. You also can't hang out with any of the male troops alone or agree to workout with any of them or go to lunch with them on base. If you are, everyone starts talking about how you're sleeping with them. Whether you really are or not doesn't matter. You're just automatically labelled a slut. The female Marine lives a lonely, lonely life at camp.





Goodell's tone and style are easy to read. It's not your typical history book explaining life on the war front or anything like that. She's laidback for the most part but serious through out the whole thing. Sometimes she doesn't agree with certain "rituals" or routines the Marines do to fellow Marines but her thoughts are always passionate about issues and her feelings are heartfelt on what it means to be a Marine.





Here are a couple passages that I thought showed her style well:





"The women were assigned nicknames by the men who reminded them of how they were perceived, what they were seen as, names like Legs and Dolly, names that were unshakable and became what the women were called, at least behind their backs. Gender impacted how we referred to one another in a second way: if several of us were discussing a fellow Marine with whom one of us may not be familiar, we'd refer to him by his last name or by his nickname or by his job or unit. But if that person was a woman, we'd identify her as the 'female' this or that. He's, 'Benson, the mechanic.' She's, 'Anderson, the female mechanic.' She's always a female first and a Marine second. That's just the way it was" (25).




"Pineda and I pulled a burnt upper torso from the truck and then removed a leg. Pineda climbed into the cab to collect the rest. He picked up or peeled off every single on of several pieces covering the vehicle's interior... Some of the remains had to be scooped up by putting our hands together as though were were cupping water... When we finished, the contents --the clumps and chunks and pieces and parts -- didn't resemble a human body" (52).



"I believe that every Marine thinks that they are going to die, that it will be a heroic death, one that saves the lives of others. That, however, is a glorified notion, an abstract idea, a vague picture in the mind, a blurry image from a half-remembered movie. We want to save lives, but we haven't grasped what that will entail, and we don't want to grasp it because it may keep us from doing what we have to do. Knowing exactly what our dream involves will make doing it even harder. Well, we, the Marines of the Mortuary Affairs platoon, are the reality to that collective hallucination. While other Marines continue to carry around the dream, we clean up its reality" (60).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

From a New York Times Discussion

This was posted recently during a discussion in the New York Times about the Air Force losing human remains.

allesandra
San Diego, CA
November 8th, 2011
2:54 pm
As a Navy Desert Storm veteran I think ALL service members are doing the best they can under horrific circumstances. In several cases the workers at military morgues are young kids themselves. Please read the book "Shade it Black: Death and after in Iraq" by Jess Goodell. It relates what really happens in Iraq.
Too many times people read the romanticized sanitized version of war and get a totally unrealistic picture. This can open your eyes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jess Talks With High School Students

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 22, Jess will talk to Idaho high school students via Skype. James Moran, the teacher, worked with his students to create a study guide to help them with their reading. One student admitted that this is the first book he has ever read cover-to-cover. As Jim says, for a teacher, this is gold!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Boston Radio Interview

Jess will be interviewed by Jeff Santos (AM 1510) Wednesday, November 9th, at 9:15 am.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I know Jess' story well, yet was brought to tears when reading it expressed through this moving poem, written by Alex Bell.

Shade it Black

Across the gunfire beneath a truck, flashes light up my collection.
The explosion has done its job,
Oh God how it has done its job!
I must do mine.
How dare they say we are trained, there is no training to prepare you for this...
Same boots, same belt,
It could be me, it could be me.
I wish it was me.
His pain is over, mine has just begun.

I freeze!
Feeling inept I lay there motionless, what do I do?
I do nothing, nothing.
A nearby shell shocks me!
I start clawing out at the burnt meat, grabbing all I can see....all I can smell,
quickly, quickly, get this over with,
No fear, pure anger.
Body bag partly full I drag myself out.

The Unit greet the old me, not realising she doesn’t exist;
SHE was left behind in the cold shadow of the truck.
They congratulate me on a successful mission
“Got there before the enemy”, “Job well done”
I ignore the high five............
The light falls upon the open bag.
They are also quiet.

A half finished jigsaw
the Marine lays on the table,
We stare at the spaces the bomb has left behind.
I shade these in black on the paperwork.
The inventory begins.

His pockets still full of life,
‘Rules of engagement’ neatly folded,
Scrunched up trash that didn’t become litter,
A picture of smiles from his high school football team,
A half full bottle of Blue Star ointment and
from his bloodied breast pocket slips a sonogram of a foetus.
The silence is now louder.


Alex Bell 10th October 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Interview on Tuesday, October 4th, on BBC Radio 4!

04/10/2011
Listen :
Next on:
Tuesday, 21:00 on BBC Radio 4
Synopsis
Claudia Hammond talks to Jess Goodell about her role in Mortuary Affairs in the US Marines. Jess's job was to recover the remains of soldiers in Iraq so they could be returned to the US. She talks about the psychological impact of retrieving bodies often in the aftermath of Improvised Explosive Devices. In her training she was told "PTSD is real - like 'flu." In her insightful account of one aspect of the Iraq conflict she explains how she developed PTSD and how she dealt with the nightmares and depression on returning home to civilian life.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rich Moniac Interviews Jess

Rich Moniac interviewed Jess on 9/26. Rich has a program on KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. Jess has been interviewed quite a few times since the book's publication; this interview is among the best.

http://www.ktoonews.org/2011/09/26/peace-talk-92611/

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Value of Education

Fredonia alumni releases memoir
·        
 

Before attending Fredonia State Jessica Goodell, a 2010 graduate, served a tour in Iraq as part of the Marine Mortuary Affairs Unit. After returning to the States and civilian lifestyle Goodell found inspiration from professors Hearn (Jamestown Community College) and Suthankaran (Fredonia State) which prompted publication of her personal account  in Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq.
 "I saw that there was in fact meaning and value to life after the military." After getting out of the military in 2005 Goodell started traveling.  She had been in nine places before reaching Western New York including California, St. Louis, Washington and Tucson.
"I think I was searching for a place where I felt like I belonged," Goodell said of her time spent traveling. Goodell was actually making plans to go back to California when she realized she would not find what she was looking for and should enroll in school.  After enrolling at Fredonia, Jessica stayed in Chautauqua County. She majored in psychology and minored in philosophy.
Jessica says she was challenged and pushed beyond what she thought were her limits during her time at Fredonia. Dr. Suthakaran, professor of psychology, was the one to push her the most.
"Every class I had with him just blew me away," Goodell said. "I feel that he was the professor that awakened me from the flow of life."
Hearn and Suthakaran taught Jessica how she could integrate her experiences into who she is and begin to move forward, taking with her what she has learned rather than being held back by it.
Hearn, co-author of "Shade it Black," was also Goodell's teacher at Jamestown Community College. Publishing a book was not Goodell's goal when she and Hearn first started. She told Hearn that she was a veteran who had been to Iraq and was struggling making the transition to civilian life from military lifestyle.
When Hearn told Jessica to write down her experiences, she did not know where to start.
"The only memories I had of Iraq were those of flashbacks and nightmares. I met with John once a week and he would interview me. He had specific questions prepared," Goodell said.  
The road to writing the book was not easy for Goodell, especially because it was intended to be a published book. Originally collected as a journal these memoirs contained stories from Iraq so she could begin to process what happened.
"As you can imagine, it was very painful reliving my experiences. I was not healing yet and the only way I knew how was to recall what happened and relive the emotion and pain," Jessica said.  Hearn told Goodell that her story was one that others could learn from because many people did not know about the duties she had performed in Iraq. After finishing the story, Hearn arranged it for her and gave her a hard copy.
The road to publishing companies was a long one. Goodell was not quite ready to share her story with the world yet.
"I took the hard copy and put it in my dresser drawer. It stayed there for a couple of years; I didn't even want to look at it. I was not ready, it was too painful." Goodell said.  After some time had passed, Jessica took the book out of her drawer and told Hearn she was ready. Together they submitted the book to a publishing company.
"There was no part of this book that did not come with tears. As I said earlier, I struggled with the idea that there was value to life after the military," Goodell said. She is very thankful for her time here at Fredonia and the professors who aided in her figuring out things about herself and her achievements.
"There were many professors at SUNY Fredonia who made me think and reflect about life.  To not just live it but to be actively aware and engaged in it," Goodell said.
Goodell will return to the Fredonia campus during the 2011 Homecoming Weekend for a book signing. The signing will take place in the University Bookstore at 1 p.m. Saturday, October 22.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jamestown Post Journal Interviews Jess

A Way To Cope With War
Area Native Writes Book Based On Experiences In Aftermath Of Iraq War Tour Of Duty
September 4, 2011
By Dave Emke (demke@post-journal.com) , The Post-Journal

When Jessica Goodell graduated high school, she chose not to go directly to college.
Instead, she chose the military route - a route that would lead her to Iraq, and to some of most gruesome sights imaginable.
In her recently released book, ''Shade It Black: Death and After In Iraq,'' Goodell details her role as part of the Mortuary Affairs unit in the war: the group of soldiers whose mission it is to process and identify the remains of dead American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
The scent of death never escaped her while she was in her tour of duty with the Marine Corps, she said. And when she returned home, she found she still couldn't get away. She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder related to her experiences in the war. Enrolled at Jamestown Community College upon her return, she didn't tell anyone about what she had done in Iraq and what she had seen.
''It was really difficult adjusting to civilian life,'' Goodell said. ''I was older - although not by much - than the average student and I had traveled around the world, even seeing war, when many students had not even left their hometowns.''
In the fall of 2006 she was enrolled in American Institutions, a sociology course, with professor John Hearn, who noticed something different about the student.
''When I picture her in that classroom, it's her posture I see most clearly,'' writes Hearn in the postscript to ''Shade It Black,'' which he co-wrote. ''While others had a tendency to slouch down into their plastic chairs or to lean forward to rest their arms on a shared table before them, Jess sat with a perfectly straight spine. She didn't whisper to classmates, play with her phone or appear disinterested. She finished the course with one of a few A's I assigned. I remember, too, that she did not say a single word throughout the 15-week semester.''
Goodell said that the American Institutions course caused her to think about her place in society, and she told Hearn about what she had experienced and how she was struggling to readjust.
''At the time, I was struggling with flashbacks, nightmares, substance abuse and social isolation,'' she said. ''John suggested that I tell him everything I could remember about Iraq, and that he would write it down into a coherent narrative so that I could begin processing my experiences.''
They two spent weeks talking, Goodell said. Though Goodell said it was difficult to answer Hearn's questions and put her memories of the experiences down onto paper, and that interviews often needed to be cut short because she would begin crying and shaking, doing so helped her to confront her fears and the horror of what she had been through.
But she couldn't do it right away. After about 90 pages were written, she said, Hearn gave her the documents and told her she could read them when she was ready. She placed them in a dresser drawer and left them there for close to two years, until she could face the memories.
''Finally, I pulled it out and called John and said I was ready,'' Goodell said. ''We read it line by line and decided to see if we could get it published.''
Goodell plans to attend graduate school at the University at Buffalo in the fall to continue her pursuit of a career in psychology, with the hope of one day working with veterans and their families. In the present, however, her book is doing the job of educating the world about how the hell of war can impact the psyche of a human being forever.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Walking Forward

Jess just received a very heartfelt and encouraging message from Tom, a Marine whose war was in Vietnam. He writes that it's okay to look over your shoulder, as long as you are doing it while waking forward. Here is a passage from his email:

"
I am also a Marine, my war was Vietnam and even though my experiences were much easier than hers I carried them with me a very long time and all of us, be in Vietnam, Iraq or any other war, carry those things with us the rest of our lives. The key is replacing those experiences with many more positive ones, over a very long period of time. There is another side, it just takes a long time to process and deal with it. It is OK to look over your shoulder, just do it walking forward."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

From Other Wars

This is from oregon.com:

Gathering the dead: letter to a WWII veteran

I have this image of my grandfather trolling a World War II battlefield in Italy, boots spattered with mud and blood and a dozen other kinds of filth, surveying a desolate reality.
It’s after the skirmish’s last shot has been fired. It’s his turn to work now. He and a few other U.S. Army soldiers weave between greasy fires and smoke that stains their clothes. They spot an American facedown in a puddle, head bobbing in what seems like flagons of blood.
Grandpa raises his hand up, beckons to an olive-colored transport truck behind him. It trundles over the uneven terrain and stops just before Grandpa and another guy pick the stiff up. The face is shredded, probably from a mortar blast, burning, thin razors of shrapnel buried in a dozen bloody holes.
Grandpa and the other guy hoist the body into the truck. Wet gears in the undercarriage shift and click. The truck moves on. The men follow.
The image isn’t quite a detail-for-detail factual account. Really it’s just a dramatized projection based on what little I know about Grandpa’s WWII service. I know he was in the Graves Registration Service, now called Mortuary Affairs. I know he and others in his unit were tasked with the collection, identification, processing and burial of dead bodies following battles.
I know, at one point, the highest incidence of post traumatic stress disorder was within GRS/MA ranks. “Shade It Black,” an account of just how far an MA soldier can fall, was published earlier this year. You can see an interview with author Jess Goodell here.
It’s interesting to know there’s someone else who fell down the same rabbit hole Grandpa did and is willing to talk about it. I want to know if anyone could make it all the way back up.
Not to say Grandpa couldn’t have; not to say he took the fall at all. He was jovial all 24 years I knew him. He never had flashbacks, never melted down at the sight of Old Glory during Fourth of July parades or military events. He never talked about his time in northern Africa or Italy at all. The lock on that part of his mind was some kind of high-intensity alloy no key or methodology could crack.
I have a theory about why. I have to imagine soldiers on the ground in that era saw glimmers of heroism and honor – little snippets of those things military recruitment ads would have us believe are constant and frequent – between the explosions and splashes of blood they saw daily. Grandpa got no silver lining. He only saw the bodies, what men looked like when they were broken and inside out and beyond fixing. Imagine seeing life’s complexities wither before you every day like that. Imagine having to tell families of so many strangers and friends their son or brother or lover or husband or father had died on a battlefield so far away.
I’d be left with two choices after three years of that kind of life: be committed or bury those memories so deep light would ever be able to touch them. I think Grandpa chose the latter, for his sanity and for ours.
And now, like most people in this journalism gig would, I’m left wishing I knew every appalling detail...I have all the letters he wrote to his folks during his military service, imparted to me after he died in 2007. I also have news clippings, old mess hall menus, yellowing 6-cent stamp books.
I’ll never forget this line he wrote in 1945 when the war was close to ending: “Sat in lawn chairs smoking cigarettes and almost felt like civilians again.”
I’m not sure any of the letters contain the really bad stuff he undoubtedly saw. Someday when I get the right amount of gumption, I’m going to take a trip back in time with every letter, try to get a few glimpses of what he did see and feel like sharing. I guess I feel like there’s not a whole lot I can do for veterans beyond genuinely appreciating their willingness to fight for their family and complete strangers, and the only thing I can really try and do is empathize with what I know. I’m just not sure any civilian can ever look a battle-scarred soldier in the eye and say, “I understand. I get it,” with honesty.
I feel we owe it to them to just listen.

Monday, August 1, 2011

From James Bingham

This appeared online in Airbornepress.com, July 29th, 2011:

Shade It Black
Death and After Iraq
http://thecasemateblog.files.wordpress.com/
thecasemateblog.files.wordpress.com


I heard the author, Jess Goodell, being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR (National Public Radio) the other day. I have never heard anyone so soft spoken. Her voice was so soothing that literally you could hear the pathos in Terry’s voice—this amazing empathy. What a job Jess had.

Jess Goodell was a Marine In Iraq and worked as a mortuary officer, identifying the bodies of young Marines. She said something like, “We worked so hard to get every single part of the dead.” Interpreted, the body parts of every Marine blown up by an IED (Improvised Explosive Devise). One of her responsiblities was to diagram the body parts of the deceased. If the body parts were not found, she was told to shade it black.

Jess wanted to go to Iraq, so she volunteered for the mortuary job. She says it never got easier with time."I don't think I ever stopped smelling death when I was in Iraq...And at least for me, once I smelled that smell of death, I just couldn't stop smelling it.' After leaving Iraq, she had a hard time adjusting to civilian life. She now wants to help other veterans with post traumatic stress disorder. What a remarkable youngster!
Does the President think about the words of those soldiers like Jess Goodell when making decisions about the future of Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe, because I think he is a compassionate man. But he’ll not be giving the weight to her words as much as the words of the generals and politicians.
I’m going to buy the book, Shade It Black. Unfortunately, Americans don’t want to read about Iraq or Afghanistan. We say we support the troops, but with one percent or less of Americans having a loved one in the military or even knowing someone wearing the uniform, reading about Iraq can hardly be on our radar screen.
Jess’s story is compelling and the country as a whole doesn’t deserve her sacrifices.


Radio Interview - J.O.B. San Francisco

Here is a link to an interview with Jessica:  http://tunein.com/tuner/?ProgramId=191796&TopicId=35511764

Monday, July 18, 2011

A detailed, flattering review

I just read a review posted on Champagne Rising. It's thoughful, and kind, and more thorough than many. Here it is: http://www.champagnerising.com/

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BBC World Service

Jess' interview with BBC World Service just aired. It will be broadcast again at the following times:
The woman who collected the bodies of American soldiers in Iraq
  • The woman who collected the bodies of American soldiers in Iraq

  • The woman who collected the bodies of American soldiers in Iraq

  • The woman who collected the bodies of American soldiers in Iraq.
  • Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Interview on Buffalo's Channel 4

    Yesterday, Jess appeared on the evening news on Buffalo's CBS affliate. She was interviewed by 33 year news veteran Rich Newberg, who agrees that Jess' story is an important one and one that the country is ready to hear. Buffalo is 70 miles or so from Jamestown (where I work and near where Jess grew up) and is the closest media outlet to contact us about Shade It Black. Consequently, I've been hearing from nearby acquaintances and long-lost friends all morning who are calling to offer congratulations on the publication of the book. They all agree that the interview is excellent. Here it is:
     http://www.wivb.com/dpp/military/WNY-authors-book-details-Iraq-War-exp?ref=scroller&categoryId=10001&status=true

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    A Daughter's Perspective

    Benjamin Franklin said, “Wars are not paid for in wartime, the bill comes later.” Too many of the men and women returning from our current wars already understand the truth in Franklin’s statement. That truth is lived everyday in the sharp recoil at the sound of a firecracker, the nightlong restlessness when resisting the sleep that brings troubling images, the stream of tears few others understand. This struggle affects relationships and the people to whom one is tied: friends, parents, spouses, and children. How could it not?
        We’ve just received an insightful and heartfelt post from Kelly (see the “comments” section beneath A Phone Call From Greg), the daughter of Greg, the Vietnam vet we mentioned in our last blog. Kelly helps us to understand several of the subtle yet profound ways children are affected by a parent’s PTSD. I hope Kelly’s words assist, if only in a small way, others who have grown up –or who are now growing up – under similar circumstance.

    Thursday, June 30, 2011

    A Phone Call From Greg

        This morning I received a phone call from Greg, a Vietnam vet who worked in a mortuary function. Greg, who is reading Shade It Black, was kind enough to chat with me about his wartime experiences and his transition back to civilian life. The mortuary work then was much like it is now, but different in some respects as well. The same is true for the transition home. The process is the same, but different. Once home, Greg couldn’t travel more than 15-20 miles from home without experiencing serious panic attacks. Only drinking beer, smoking pot, and fishing gave him a respite from the now inordinate pressures of everyday life.  When Greg finally went to the VA for help –some 15 years after returning home, they told him his problems had nothing to do with his Vietnam service. Much later he met another Vietnam vet, a counselor and a Marine, who helped Greg to understand that while he had come home physically 23 years earlier, he had not yet come home emotionally. He immediately saw the truth in that statement and reached for the box of Kleenex that had been given him at the start of the counseling session, when he wondered to himself, “What am I supposed to do with these?” Jess, Greg said, has written his story and he wants to tell her so.  And he soon will.
        Have you or a relative worked in a mortuary affairs platoon during wartime? If so, will you consider contacting me? JohnHearn@mail.sunyjcc.edu.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Do You Work With PTSD Vets?

    Hello, I'm John Hearn, Jessica's co-author on Shade It Black. Yesterday, at a family gathering, I talked to a young woman, an LPN at an upstate New York hospital. She is halfway through reading the book. She talked to me about the effect that reading is having on her perceptions of some of the vets she works with at the hospital. "I have a better sense of why many do not want to talk about what they've been through," she said. "And a better sense of why others sometimes just sit and cry." Have you read the book? And do you work with PTSD vets? If so, will you consider sharing your thoughts about how the book may be affecting your perceptions and behaviors at work? Or perhaps you'd prefer to comment on how your work influenced your reading of the book. Any contribution will be appreciated. Thanks.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    From Bob Hall

    A friend sent me an autographed copy of “Shade it Black,” which I read in a day. As a Marine Vietnam Veteran (of no particular distinction), I have to say that Jess Goodell is a better Marine than I am, because she bravely performed a duty I don’t believe I could have done, working in Mortuary Affairs and dealing every day with the horrific dead of modern combat. That duty wounded her as deeply as any veteran who lost a limb, but it was a wound unseen and largely unacknowledged. I would not recommend this book to someone of fragile sensibilities.

    PTSD is very real and very painful. Unfortunately, because it is not a visible wound, it is also possible to fake it, as detailed in the great book about phony Vietnam vets, “Stolen Valor,” which I highly recommend. And agencies or providers in the money flow have no incentive to expose the fakes, which means they suck up resources needed by veterans like Goodell. Cash flow is probably why the CDC and the VA have such a different estimate of real PTSD among Vietnam veterans, and why so many groups raising money put out inflated phony claims of the suicide rate among Vietnam vets.

    Having in the past sent several hundred dollars to a woman Marine I knew to escape from an abusive marriage (she paid back every penny), I was disappointed to read that Goodell’s comrades offered her so little support after she left the Corps.

    This book may also make you rethink the politically-correct idea that women can be injected into the macho male environment of combat without adverse conditions.

    Thank you, Jess, for your service to our Corps, to your fellow Marines and to our Republic.

    Semper Fidelis,

    Robert A. Hall
    Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic

    Sunday, January 30, 2011