Sunday, January 30, 2011

Your Comments

This is a place to post your own comments about the book Shade it Black: Death and After in Iraq, by Jess Goodell with John Hearn.


  1. To Jess Goodell, you had a lot of courage for the job you did. I'm lost for words on what to say about an experience I've never known, and having not ever served in the military.

  2. By mistake I posted my comment without finishing.

    I don't think I could read this book, I don't think I have the stomach for it. Though from reading the article about Mrs Goodell's insight into what she had to do was enough for me to be turned into a pacifist ever more than ever.

    Jess Goodell was brave, as it is a struggle for women to be part of the military.

    Thank you and take care.

  3. Dear Jess,

    I am listening to your interview with Bob Edwards on XMradio with tears in my eyes. As a former Marine I would like to say God Bless you and Thank You for your service.
    Please know that no matter what anyone suggested you are now and always a Marine.

    Semper Fi

  4. I listened to your interview with Bob Edwards and it was riveting. Thank you for your service. May you always be gentle with yourself and good luck in grad school.

  5. Jessica,
    You are the strongest and the bravest person I know. I am so grateful that you have not allowed your past to destroy you.

    I love you,

  6. Jessica,
    You are the strongest and the bravest person I know. I am so grateful that you have not allowed your past to destroy you.

    I love you,

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Thank you for your service. Thank you for writing this book. Thank you for honoring life even, especially, in death.

  9. May God shelter you mind, body and spirit, and grant you a peace beyond anything that we can imagine. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  10. Ms Goodell I do thank you for your service to our fallen service men and women and how you honored them in the performance of your duties. My prayers are with you as you carry on with your studies. You are and have been a very special gift to us all.
    Taylor H.

  11. I just listened to Ms. Goodell's interview on Fresh Air. First-off, I'd like to thank her for her service in the Marines, and also for her service in Iraq. I found her to be very intelligent and thoughtful, although there did seem to be a time or two where she was steered a bit in her response by Terry Gross. If, however, the point was to create an interest for me to buy and read Ms. Goodell's book that mission was accomplished.

    I served in active duty for ten years in the 70s and 80s. One thing that caught my ear was the bond that exists between many veterans, and especially among Marines. It is difficult to quantify that bond, but it's commonly said that combat veterans ultimately fight for each other first. Many also fight to protect the families, friends, and civilians back home. But for many too, fighting for each other makes sense when many other things didn't or still doesn’t. It's still true today, that most of my closest friends... the ones I'd trust my life, or the lives of my kids, are the buddies I made in the service.

    I hate to see this interview with Terry Gross be used as part of a pacifist agenda. The warrior dislikes war most of all, but most warriors realize that there are a lot of really bad people in the world who would happily attack America and Americans abroad, and are only kept at bay by the selfless professionalism of our military men and women at arms.

  12. My wife and I have just finished listening to you on Fresh Air and we are moved to deep grief. It is of the greatest importance that we human beings face the deadly horror that is part of our civilization. It is only by doing such that we can return to our humanity and our sanity. Thank you for presenting your difficult work with such courage and compassion. I pray that we will one day awaken from the nightmare cycle of violence and learn as a species to honor the miracle that we are.

  13. Sorry Nick,
    I can't go there with you.
    War is evil, no excuses.

    I'm a pacifist and would happily die for that cause.
    There is no god, no country, no flag, no president, no wife,
    and no child that I would willingly kill for.

    The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are as unjustified to me as was Vietnam.
    I'm ashamed of America for engaging in this kind of bully diplomacy.
    And for what?
    Cheap oil, and nothing else.

    To Ms. Goodell, I thank you for your book. My sincerest hope is that it steers many other young people away from careers in the military.

    I've never harbored illusions about war.
    I am grateful to the photographers who covered the Vietnam War,
    for their images that were published in Life magazine,
    that vividly illustrated the insanity of armed conflict to me.

    I'm grateful to Terry Gross for fearlessly conducting this interview, asking the painful questions, and for Jessica's courageous honesty and authenticity.

  14. Dear Jess,

    I heard your interview with Terry Gross today on NPR, and it moved me in a way I didn't expect. I usually listen to NPR on my ride home from work, and today I almost had to pull over to compose myself. (Driving with tears in one's eyes is never a good plan...)

    Your softspoken and honest, forthright demeanor drew me in to your story; I was so riveted that I purchased "Shade it Black" on my Nook immediately, and I finished your book this evening.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences as a Mortuary Affairs Marine. You are an inspiration, though you may not always think so. And you are most certainly a hero, though you may demur on that point, you are one nonetheless--because a hero is one who does what needs doing when others will not or cannot.

    Most certainly, you are a warrior. Not a FEMALE warrior; a Marine who served diligently, with honor, and that is no small thing! Neither is it a small thing at all that you chose to tell your story; to those who may never fully understand what you've been through, and for those who know far too well the cost of dedicated service to their country.

    Thank you for your service. Thank you for the respect and reverence you showed to the fallen. Your story and your life are a blessing, never doubt it...and when you finish your graduate studies and reach out to counsel other suffering vets, the blessing will flow outward like the ripples in a pond, touching more lives than you may ever truly know.

  15. Jess, I hope you are reading these comments.

    I am a Marine Veteran of OIF III. I was stationed at Camp Fallujah as a provisional MP, mostly doing route security, convoy patrols and the like.

    I just wanted to thank you for doing the job you did, a job which was so necessary but which most of us would not have been able to accomplish.

    I have deep, deep respect for you and your service. I have also had close friends who have suffered deeply from PTSD, and while I have adjusted well from my experience (which was much less traumatic than yours) none of us came back unchanged.

    You are my true sister in arms. Thank you again, and I hope you know that should you need it, there are thousands of us, fellow Marines, who are here.

    Semper Fi.

  16. Jess, I just listened to your interview with Terry Gross. Thank you. You are an incredibly brave young woman- for the job that you did, for telling your story, for the story you tell, and for doing the work that it takes to move on. Please continue to take care of yourself. I wish you the best in everything that you strive to accomplish.

  17. Hi Jess,

    As Purgatus said above, you are our true sister in arms. Thank you for being the best Marine you could be, and for doing a very difficult job. As an old Master Sergeant I'm more than a bit disappointed with the small unit leadership that ought to have provided you with a better Marine Corps experience (by which I mean the way you were treated by some male Marines), but I also find myself thinking back to some of the fine Woman Marines I've known and wondering how much crap they put up with and never mentioned.

    In any case, thank you for writing the book, for doing the interviews, and for upholding the finest traditions of the Corps by your service.

    Semper Fi,


  18. Jess,

    Five million of us each got a tiny dab of PTSD from tuning in to your riveting hour on Fresh Air yesterday. You were insightful and inspiring, but it of course wasn't a pleasant experience (nor should it have been).

    Our collective national burst of PTSD was appropriate, since you withstood all this pain in our defense. It's equitable that we should take on some of that load - and that you should simultaneously be lightened of yours, to complete the equation.

    Can you perceive the unloading? Can you feel your heaviness having disseminated outward to a large crowd (book readers and radio listeners) of sympathetic countrymen glad to grow a tiny bit sadder in exchange for seeing you heal and thrive?

    That's OUR service.

  19. Jess,

    I found your story (heard via NPR) very vivid and a unique tell of the added weight that a Christian had to carry during the time of duty. If possible, I would greatly appreciate contact to discuss the possibility of arranging your story to be told visually.


  20. Dear Jess, Thank you so much for all the work you did for the sake of humanity and freedom in the war. God bless you. It is so powerful to sit here and be able to hear your voice telling your story in NPR's Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross. Thank you for sharing, it means so much to me. Love, Mia Em., (civilian, El Paso, TX, USA)

  21. Thank you for sharing your story. Iraq and military service is far removed from my life but this book affected me profoundly. It must have been difficult to get to the point where you could relive this in order to write and share it with the public, but I commend you for finding the strength and courage to live, re-live, and share your experiences- it is such an important story for us to hear. Thank you.

  22. Ms Goodell, please know you truly affected me, and I thank you for persevering, for serving, for doing right by the families whose members gave their all. I thank you for having the courage it must’ve taken to write your story. You are a real hero and I hope you find the peace you so deserve. You mention toward the end that you want to move back to functionality – I’ll keep a candle lit that you make it all the way to happiness. (COL, USA (Ret)).

  23. Dear Ms. Goodell,
    Thank you for your account of war in "Shade It Black." I was reminded of conversations I've had with Vietnam veterans, who years after that war had ended, were still deeply affected by their experiences.

    I am not a member of the military (or a veteran) but have been interested in the subject and nature of war since I grew up in a military community and was married to an Army officer. Thank you for the reference to Chris Hedges' book; I will be sure to check that out. Also of interest no doubt would be General Smedley Butler's account in "War Is A Racket" (Butler was a USMC general in the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, the recipient of two Medals of Honor, who later spoke out about the connection between capitalism and war).

    Thank you again for telling your story. Congratulations on starting graduate school and I hope you are finding peace.

    J. Correll

  24. Hello Jess,

    Today I received a message asking if I remember you and if I heard about your book. I remember you just like it was yesterday! I'm Laura Jimenez, formerly Cpt Tetrault. I arrived with the MA unit in May 2004 from DC & Kuwait. I am extrememly excited about your book and so proud of you and your personal & professional successes. I do hope to hear from you when you can. Until then, God Bless you during your healing journey.


  25. Jess,
    I purchased your book after hearing your interview on Fresh Air. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for opening my eyes to a world that I never knew existed. I appreciate your service to this country and for having the courage to divulge the nature of that work. I was especially saddened to hear you describe the lack of aftercare programs for veterans suffering from PTSD (and lack of aftercare in general). It seems such a shame that these men and women would be discharged without the resources necessary to reacclimate into civilian life. I wonder if there are any charitable organizations that support such programs, and if there are, if there are any you recommend.
    Thank you again, Jess. I salute you. :)

  26. Jess,
    There are casualties from wars both alive and dead. It's very sad that it happened to conscious minded people such as yourself. Many times the way victims are able to resolve the psychological post traumatic stresses is to create a positive effect from a negative traumatic event. This is often accomplished by bringing to light the truth about what is and what actually happened. The people who ultimately direct others into battle or evil actions are often times not involved the front lines and suffer no ill effects. Their reasons for these wars or manipulations of others seldom justify the outcome. As has been said before and still rings today, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men(and women) do nothing." (Edmund Burke). You can take your pain and suffering and use it to change the wrongs into right for yourself and the world.

  27. Jess,
    I purchased your book yesterday and was unable to put it down until I finished it today. I found it be a very powerful and moving book. As a retired US military senior NCO, I feel it should be required reading for all newly promoted NCOs of all services for a variety of reasons. Thank you for your service, not only in uniform but in civvies as well!

  28. Dear Jess,

    As a Marine grunt from the 80s, I felt total and complete shame for being a Marine upon hearing how you were treated by other Marines in-country. It sickens me to my core that others, who are supposed to be 'a cut above', could be so vile and wicked to you. In my opinion, each and every one of the guilty deserves 10 years hard labor. Their treatment of you -someone who took their duty and responsibility so reverently- is inexcusable and simply unforgivable...PERIOD.

    I thank you for your service, for your sacrifice, for your pain, and for your selflessness. You are a brave, bold and courageous Marine and YOU make me PROUD to be a Marine!

  29. Thank you Jessica . . . not only for sharing your war experiences with us but also for enlightening so many on the complexities of being a woman in the Marine Corps. I am proud to have served for 12 years (active/reserve). I did the best job I could but never felt like it was ever good enough. Thanks also for sharing how difficult it is to assimilate into a culture of self-centeredness, self-indulgence, lack of discipline, overeating, and living life on a conveyor belt not really being present or aware. Hope you are blossoming in ever aspect of your life. I pray that your life is filled with love, joy and abundance.

  30. After I read your book, I thought it would make a great book to share with my high school Current Event students! So, with the help of a local VFW post, I purchased books for my class.

    I felt your story was unique, and yet might move my students. My students live in rural Idaho might understand some up the issues raised in your book AND they might learn something about war, Iraq, and the aftermath of it.

    Maybe as the students near the end of the book, you would be willing to do a video conference with them.

    Jim Moran
    Cambridge High School

  31. This is just an amazing powerful honest book that is the best i have read about any war. I'm speechless at your bravery and courage, and great understanding of the world as it is.

  32. I saw your interview and it tore me up. All I can say is if I was by you I would give you a big hug,I care about you Jessica.

  33. Jessica,

    Your book is incredible and your resilience is inspiring. I read the book in its entirety in one-sitting....have not stopped thinking about it since. It resonated strongly - I'm a woman who served 16 months in Iraq with the US Army. Although every person who spends time in a war zone has a different experience, there are common threads, and I felt that connection.

    My life journey has taken me to the profession of counseling, as well. I'm currently training in a specific therapeutic modality called Somatic Experiencing (SE). It's based on the observation that animals in the wild, though routinely threatened, are rarely, if ever, traumatized. Its premise is that humans, much like animals, have an "instinct to heal" and is a "body-mind" approach (vs "talk therapy"). SE is currently being implemented in many VA mental health programs. I felt compelled to share this with you because so many of your experiences during and after your deployment fall in line with the theory that informs SE. Also, I'm aware that you live in Boston, MA, and Peter Levine, the developer of SE, is going to be speaking in that area on 9/23. If any of this sparks an interest, his website is ""

    I wish you all the best as you continue to heal and move forward in assisting others to do the same. Thank you for the gift of your story. Warmly, Amie

  34. I have wrote a poem inspired by Jess's story:

    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

    I hope it is ok.

  35. I read your book..At first I didn't want to. I was a medic in the USAF. I saw the carnege. Young men and women dying or died. I wasn't able to wrap my head around it. I believe your booked helped me in some way. I could visualize everything you spoke about. I even had a dream I was there in Iraq with you. I had friends die over there too!! I am a vet now just trying to adjust to civilian life myself. My years of military service play through my head. I tried to help the soldiers I could..Thank you for writing the book. At this point I don't desire to work in hospitals or ambulances at all...

  36. Jess,
    I am very proud of you and thankful for the opportunity to have had served with you.

    James L. Patterson
    CWO5 USMC (Ret)

  37. Ms. Goodell,

    A lot of folks above me have covered the power of your book, but I wanted to add my voice and say that in addition to helping me understand the war, it made me think about our country as well. I have had similar thoughts about the way people interact, but could never bring them into sharp focus in the way that you did.

    In a strange way, reading this book made me want to be more “squared away” in a civilian and humanistic way by paying more attention to my interactions with my friends and family, my co-workers, and the world at large. I realize this is your first book, but it was a powerful book. I hope that you continue to observe and think and read and write, because I think you more to say, and it will be worth hearing.


  38. In 2007 I threw a pair of boots away because they were stained with the blood of a soldier who died in Iraq. With those boots, I threw away all emotion. Although not to the extent, I know your story from experience. Mortuary Affairs 2007 in Iraq.

  39. Jess Goodell I hope you read this message. Marine Infantry treat all Male POGs like crap...I'm sorry they took it out on the woman Marines. I respect WM's more than male POGs. Sorry the crap rolled downhill to you...Grunt MARINES are trained to protect Marines, especially Woman Marines. Thank you for taking care of our KIA's. Err KILL, USMC 0311.