Sunday, May 3, 2015

Completed: "The Things They Cannot Say" by Kevin Sites

Completed: The Things They Cannot Say:stories soldiers won't tell you about what they've seen, done or failed to do in war by Kevin Sties,2013, 9780061990526 (paper).

The title and subtitle imply secrets are revealed. Well...not if you've read enough military history. Sites writes about trauma and guilt and how veterans do and do not cope with post-war lives. Sites himself suffered mental health issues form his time as a war correspondent and felt guilty of letting a man be killed in Fallujah.

Sites was the journalist who filmed the killing of a wounded man in mosque in Fallujah in 2004. The wounded man was one of several fighters injured the day before when Marines attacked and took the building. Sites was filming the next day when Marines came back into the building and one Marine shot four of the remaining men and Sites filmed one man shot in the head. Sites's report and video were broadcast by news stations worldwide. Some people thought Sites was taking sides and there was a brief uproar. (Maybe you remember the incident, I did, and Sites has video online.)  But, the thing that put Sites on the sauce was Sites's guilt was that he could have saved the defenseless headshot man.

Over several years of war reporting Sites kept up with soldiers and Marines he met in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of those men were prescribed multiple medications. Many drank heavily. Many fought with family members. Many pursued dangerous behavior - Sites writes that war veterans buying sport bikes became a cliche. Some sought help and are doing okay. Some sought help and are doing poorly. Some sought no help and who the hell knows how that will turn out.

The book is not a guide to therapy or the importance of mental health treatment. Sites lets us know about some men he has met and how their symptoms and reactions are universal.  Sites compares his PTSD experiences with theirs and the book is about himself as much as the service members. Nothing wrong with that. He's had the same issues whether he was pulling a trigger or not.

Sites frequently refers to some authoritative books on the topic of war, killing, and the aftermath. Hey! I've actually read a few of those, including Col. David Grossman's On Killing and Anthony Lloyd's My War Gone By, I Miss It So.

Sites links to several video programs he has produced. I'll try and take a look at a few right now.

Edit: Okay I was watching a Fallujah video from Sites and noticed Sites had a Nov 2014 book. Swimming With Warlords about Afghanistan.ALso, Here is Sites's YouTube page:

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