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Thank You for Your Service

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  5,429 ratings  ·  741 reviews
With a foreword by Roméo Dallaire and an introduction by Carol Off.

No journalist has reckoned with the psychology of war as intimately as David Finkel. In The Good Soldiers, Finkel shadowed the men of the US 2-16 Infantry Battalion in Baghdad as they carried out the grueling fifteen-month "surge" that changed them all forever. Now Finkel has followed many of the same men a
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Bond Street Books (first published 2013)
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4.16  · 
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 ·  5,429 ratings  ·  741 reviews

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Nancy Oakes
finish date: 12/27/2013

If you've decided after reading about this book that it's too bleak, well, consider what the people in this book and others whose stories didn't make it into this book are going through. Or their wives, who married a guy, said goodbye to him as he deployed, and found that the man who came back home was someone entirely different.

Rarely in life does a book come along that has me telling everyone I know that they have to read it. I just finished Thank You For Your Service,
Steven Gilbert
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Just let me say. If there was one book on my reading list from this past year that I would recommend people read it is Thank You For Your Service. And not because it is relevant (it is) or because it returns to the extraordinary lives of those first mentioned in The Good Soldiers (it does, tragically), or because the author's style, word choice and manner in which he shares these after-war stories makes them all the more real (they do). Read it because there is no better written account of the h ...more
“Out of one war into another. Two million Americans were sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. Home now, most of them describe themselves as physically and mentally healthy. They move forward. Their war recedes. Some are even stronger for the experience. But then there are the others, for whom the war endures. Of the two million, studies suggest that 20 to 30 percent have come home with post-traumatic stress disorder—PTSD—a mental health condition triggered by some type of terror, or traumati
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is the follow on to The Good Soldiers which you should
really read before starting this book.
The Good Soldiers tell the true story of real soldiers on their
tour of duty in Iraq.
Thank Your For Your Service is the story of how these young men
with horrendous mental and physical injuries try to adjust to normal
life again after seeing,doing and experiencing terrible things that
nobody should have to go through.
It is really a very heartbreaking book to read as a lot of these young
men are real
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Finkel writes without adjectives. Because his stories are powerful enough on their own. I really can't say much about this book that will fairly reflect its emotion. From the individual stories of broken men and families, to the military brass' reviews of soldiers' suicides every part strikes a blow to your heart. These are the stories of the men whom a modern empire has tried to help after using them. Or at worst, has spat them out and forgotten. And the saddest realization is that innume ...more
Jenny Novacescu
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military
Next time someone has something negative to say about the military as a whole, you should hand them this book.
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
As an Iraq and Aghanistan veteran, and having served in 2/508 in the same company and platoon as many of those depicted in this story and having worked with them on a daily basis for nearly two years before my transfer, I believe that the book reinforces the stereotypes of the "broken soldier" while acting as though the conflicts are responsible for many of the personal problems that were present in a population of people with misaligned personalities and bad habits.

Out of dealing with many of t
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book is a harrowing experience, yet I wish every adult in America--and older teenagers, come to think of it--would read it. Oh yes, and especially our political leaders.
While on the one hand we may not be harassing soldiers when they come home from war now, they way it was done to Vietnam vets, on the other hand we are still not paying them enough attention. We destroy people's lives and health and then forget about them. It is sickening.
Read this book, and you will understand bet
Laura Leaney
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What I loved about this book is the writing, and how completely Finkel has erased himself from the narrative, and how smoothly the reader enters the various lives of the veterans he follows, even unto death. If you pay attention to what's happening in the world, there is no possible way you can escape the knowledge that a significant number of soldiers engaged in America's current wars return suffering from PTSD and a staggering number commit suicide. I've never properly understood why such post ...more
Mikey B.
Given the subject matter this book is sobering and depressing. Its’ about veterans returning from combat; the examples are from the Iraq war and how their lives are shattered – the war has destroyed their normality.

We follow the lives of about 10 veterans and their wives. The soldiers in this book are all male. The relationship with their wives, if they were married before deployment, has altered forever and it certainly is not a better relationship.

What they experienced in the war – the indiffe
Adrianne Mathiowetz
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
EVERY time I read this book on the subway, I missed my stop. Last time, I missed my stop so I got out and turned around, then got re-absorbed in the book and went too far again and had to turn back around the same way, then when I FINALLY got out at the right stop and boarded another train, I missed that NEXT stop too. I finally just got out at some random-ass location to force myself to walk because at this point it had taken me over two hours to make a dumb 45 minute journey.

Also, EVERY time I
Apr 19, 2015 rated it liked it
The closing line of David Finkel’s Thank You for Your Service is “Go go go go.” Those words are spoken by Adam Schumann to his son as they’re arriving home after Adam’s six-month stay a rehabilitation facility for veterans needing mental health support. I guess we’re supposed to hope that things get better for Adam and his family, that his wife doesn’t find him in the basement with a shotgun against his head again. But I’m not sure what else Finkel wants for his readers, if anything. When I clos ...more
Jul 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it's rather emotionally manipulative. I understand that that's the point, to get the reader emotionally involved--and it's an important story to tell, one that isn't often told about the prevalence of PTSD and mental health issues in soldiers--but it still felt manipulative.

It also, by only showing soldiers with post-tour mental issues, may do a disservice to those soldiers that have less traumatic tours and come back without such severe scars
David Finkel is a reporter who has no detachment from his subject matter; he was one of the journalists who was allowed to be embedded with an infantry battalion in Iraq, and wrote his first book about that experience. For this book he maintains that same intimacy with his subjects, as he writes about many of those same soldiers, who have now returned home, but have not left the wars behind, even though back on U.S. soil. These men and their families try to resume their lives, but struggle with ...more
Muhammad Nusair
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book reminds me of the 90's bestseller "We were soldiers once, and young" (later a movie in 2002) and I believe it will inspire Republican filmmakers in Hollywood for the rest of this decade.

David Finkel is a Pulitzer prize winner journalist and one of the big names in the Washington Post and you can see that clearly in his book about veterans who served in Iraq. Finkel reports that 20 to 30 percent of veterans who served in Iraq have come home with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumat
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm almost at a loss in writing this because this book completely crushed me. The subject matter (the psychological struggles of Iraq/Afghanistan soldiers after returning home) makes it seem like it would be difficult to read, but the writing is so completely phenomenal that I didn't want to put it down.

It's such a cliche to say "I wish every American would read this," but I really wish every American would read this.
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
David Finkel's harrowing/heartbreaking Good Soldiers, for which he embedded with the 2-16 Infantry Battalion in Iraq, was one of my favorite books of 2010. For his follow-up, Thank You For Your Service, Finkel once again embeds with the 2-16, but this time everyone's back home (or, at least, everyone who didn't get blown to bits or burned alive in the Mideast), back with their family, wives, children, loved ones.... and it's all just as harrowing/heartbreaking. These men--we follow four closely- ...more
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military
In "The Good Soldiers," David Finkel chronicled the individual and collective experience of the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, as it deployed to Iraq as part of the 2007 "surge". In "Thank You For Your Service," Finkel follows up with some of those same soldiers and describes in unflinching detail the devastating intrapersonal and interpersonal effects of the deployment. The result is a compelling story but a profoundly unpleasant reading experience.

Rarely has a story with so much human
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, military
Powerful stuff, served raw, but laced with mercy and grace. An incredibly well done and important book that I highly recommend.

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) are real, and an Army (literally, an Army) of young Americans are living today with PTSD and TBI after service (often multiple tours of duty) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Advances in sophisticated body armor, medevac, and health care permitted us to bring home unprecedented numbers of horribly damaged so
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read Finkel's other book, The Good Soldiers, last year, and found it a very interesting account of young men at war. Thank You For Your Service follows several of the soldiers we were introduced to in the first book as they attempt to readjust to life back home. Finkel chooses to concentrate on those with "invisible wounds" - PTSD and TMI (traumatic brain injury), the hallmark wounds of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars.

He portrays these soldiers as profoundly damaged, and the various programs availab
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was very hard to read for many reasons. It paints such a bleak picture for returning soldiers and not the reality I'm familiar with, though I know it's very real for most. I had to skim through some parts because it became very repetitive and I'm still not 100% sure the intention of the book. If just to heighten awareness of such a horrible reality then it definitely worked, but could have been done slightly differently in my opinion. I wish there were much more effective resources for thes ...more
Kc Chapa
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 I highly recommend reading The Good Soldiers right before reading this. That's what I did and I think I appreciated this book more because of it. It kind of gave me closure to these particular guys' stories. It was very eye opening to read. I mean, in the media we read short accounts and statistics of the veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but we never get to put a name to the face and really read about the struggle to get on with their lives after the horror that they had to liv ...more
Oct 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, war
Maybe because the first book, The Good Soldiers, provided such an indelible experience, this one didn't have quite the impact. Or maybe it's because it's so very sad and so very depressing. It's still an enormously important report ... the war at home, what it does after the soldiers come home, what it does to their families while they are deployed AND after they come home, how it is to survive, whether as soldier or spouse.
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, upsetting, and important. I don't cry over a lot of books these days, but Thank You For Your Service could make me weep. David Finkle follows the lives of former soldiers struggling with PTSD and their families, and while it's frequently bleak, it's also real, and gives a deeper insight on what soldiers sacrifice in their service. This is a sad, hard, and sometimes ugly book to read, but these stories absolutely deserve to be heard.
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
After absolutely loving The Good Soldiers, I couldn't wait to read Thank You For Your Service. I didn't love it quite as much but it was still an excellent read. Again, very raw & depressing. I couldn't put it down. It really had me thinking about the battles that begin for soldiers after their time in the war is over. It was a powerful read.
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A harrowing and gorgeous book about the effects war has on the warriors and those who try to welcome them home and treat their physical, psychological, and spiritual wounds. Finkel is masterful at weaving together telling lines of dialogue and text messages into a larger narrative that reveals how sick our country is from its recent and ongoing wars.
Iluminada Amat
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
First, read Finkel's book, The Good Soldiers, for the background it provides. Then be prepared to be moved by the stories of some of the soldiers after returning home. The book is well written, engaging, heart breaking, and hard to put down. Although opposed to any and all wars, on principle, the book has changed the way I "see" soldiers.
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
A beautifully written, harrowing account of invisible wounds. Finkel's raw imagery provides the contrasting top-down and bottom-up perspective on the complex issues of suicide and PTSD in the after-war.
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, exceptionally well-written book. While decidedly not light subject matter, I sped through it in a 24-hour period. A lot to think about.
Amy Sprenger
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely riveting. I could not put this down. So far my favorite book of 2014.
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David Finkel is a staff writer for The Washington Post, and is also the leader of the Post’s national reporting team. He won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2006 for a series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen. Finkel lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and two daughters. Email him at
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