New Use Found in New Book by Returning Veterans
Some of the affects of war are invisible but they are there, in the recesses of the young minds returning from the devastation of war. Colonel (retired) Ted Spain, the Commander of the 18th Military Police Brigade during the ground war and first year of the occupation of Iraq, and co-author of Breaking Iraq – The Ten Mistakes That Broke Iraq, has attended two reunions of his former units. Even though Iraq is experiencing some of its worst violence since 2008, there is very little to remind the American people of the sacrifices hundreds of thousands of military service members made there. The inattention is stark in the minds of the young veterans. The questions are ever present. What was the purpose of the war? The sense of it? To what purpose, the deaths” And amputations? And long term brain damage? And to what end the invisible wound?
Ted Spain, like his former young subordinates, attended two 10th Anniversary reunions. Two of the 13 soldiers he lost in Iraq were from these two units, and several others that suffered physical wounds served with these units. The emotional effect of the war on the attendees and their families touched Ted Spain deeply. Most of the attendees ranged from 18-21 years old when they went to Iraq to fight a war. Their lives were just beginning. And in their early thirties now they are carrying the unanswered questions and the emotional baggage they spawn.
Tom Anez a resident of Sioux Falls, South Dakota was a SPC (Specialist) when he did a tour in Iraq with the 549th Military Police Company and has definite thoughts on getting some questions answered. “Nearly a decade after returning from combat in Iraq, I read Breaking Iraq” he said. “ After reading Col. Spain’s first-hand narrative of his decisions while in command, I found a unique closure, and found almost an inner peace in understanding the events that took place while at war. As a soldier on the front lines, we rarely understood the missions or decisions made from his level. After reading his explanations of his experiences, I quickly realized that he is not the typical military officer that takes orders and doesn’t question them – and in many cases, his questioning saved lives.”
Like Tom Anez, 10 years later nearly all of his fellow soldiers have left the military, some had subsequent deployments, some married, some divorced, some have children, some have bounced from job to job, but all are affected, along with Colonel Spain by their service in Iraq. Many have read Breaking Iraq – The Ten Mistakes That Broke Iraq released on March 19, 2003, the 10th Anniversary of the invasion, Some, like Tom Anaz, have told Spain that his book has helped them understand much of what simply didn’t make sense before, others have told him it has helped them bring closure to the horrors of war. Spain says that his participation at these reunions, and listening to the stories from his former soldiers, is helping him bring closure to the role he played then, and wrote about in Breaking Iraq.
Sarah Condon, a native of Muskegon, Michigan and currently residing in the town of Fraser in the outskirts of Detroit, has similar thoughts. A Specialist with Spain’s 549th MP Company, she said, ”For the last ten years I have always had the question “Why?” when trying to piece together my deployment to Iraq. After attending my 10 year reunion at Ft. Stewart, Georgia with my former battle buddies of the 549th MP Company, I was fortunate enough to meet Col. Ted Spain. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get my hands on his book “Breaking Iraq,” as many of my former comrades raved about how it explained so many of our unanswered questions that we still had 10 years later. I couldn’t put the book down during my nearly 16 hour car ride home. After having read the book, I finally feel closure and have so many of my “Why? “questions” now answered. I am so proud and honored to tell people that I now know that I was being led by an amazing leader who had his soldiers in his best interest. While at war, you sometimes feel like a pawn in the hands of the big Army and have no idea who is calling the shots. I just thank God that my life and the decisions being made for my company were being made by Col. Spain.”
Now Ted Spain feels he has a new role today. He is visiting military bases and reaching out to the troops who were in Iraq and who well know that war has lasting effects on those who fight them. With his book Breaking Iraq: The Ten Mistakes that Broke Iraq Ted Spain brings answers to many questions left unanswered in the war in Iraq. And in so doing, perhaps closure to some who long for the inner peace they left behind with their youth when they deployed.