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Reviewed by Tom Berger, Chair
VVA PTSD & Substance Abuse Committee

No one returns home from war unchanged, and many troops find coming home to be more of a challenge than life in the combat zone. Two experts from the National Center for PTSD, Drs. Matthew Friedman and Laurie Stone, have put together an easy-to-read and practical guide to help service members, their families and communities adjust after deployment in a war zone.

Drawing upon their years of research and clinical experience with Vietnam and Persian Gulf veterans suffering from traumatic stress and readjustment issues, they provide valuable lessons learned, tips, ideas, and advice for “anyone who wonders what to expect when a service member returns home from a war zone and how they can help when the going gets tough.” The authors wrote the book “in the hope that it will educate and guide a wide range of people.” It does that very well indeed and without a lot of technical jargon.

Although After the War Zone is designed to be read beginning to end, the book’s organization allows the reader to easily locate and read about specific topics, such as PTSD or helping children cope with deployment. The authors describe the stages of the “emotional cycle” of deployment and how they affect the family and the service member. The myths that troops and their families believe about homecoming and the most common challenges faced during the first few months home are discussed, as well as the emotional difficulties and challenges of dealing with physical and psychological injuries.

The book offers a variety of coping strategies to help veterans and their families manage transition issues, a glossary of technical terms frequently encountered in mental health publications, and a valuable resource section that provides information about where to find services available to troops and their families. There also is a section on community support—lessons and advice for community members who want to help returning veterans and their families—and one entitled “For Those Facing Unique Challenges” with information for women and minority service members.

After the War Zone fills an important gap. Many other books discuss readjustment challenges after deployment, but the great majority are written from the perspective of an individual who has experienced deployment. After the War Zone follows a more general overview because the authors believe that each service member and family member’s experience is different.

This book should be provided to every service member, National Guard member, and reservist called to active duty in a war zone. It is also a must read for any individual, agency, or organization wanting to help our troops and their families in their transition from active duty.

Dr. Friedman will be presenting a seminar, “Post War Integration: From Battlemind to PTSD,” at the VVA National Leadership Conference in Greenville.



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