Battle Ready: Memoir of a SEAL Warrior Medic

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The gripping memoir of Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart recipient SEAL Lieutenant Mark L. Donald


As A SEAL and combat medic, Mark served his country with valorous distinction  for almost twenty-five years and survived some of the most dangerous combat actions imaginable.

From the rigors of BUD/S training to the horrors of the battlefield, Battle Ready dramatically immerses the reader in the unique life of the ...

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Battle Ready: Memoir of a SEAL Warrior Medic

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The gripping memoir of Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart recipient SEAL Lieutenant Mark L. Donald


As A SEAL and combat medic, Mark served his country with valorous distinction  for almost twenty-five years and survived some of the most dangerous combat actions imaginable.

From the rigors of BUD/S training to the horrors of the battlefield, Battle Ready dramatically immerses the reader in the unique life of the elite warrior-medic who advances into combat with life-saving equipment in one hand and life-taking weapons in the other. It is also an uplifting human story that reveals how a young Hispanic American bootstrapped himself out of a life that promised a dead-end future by enlisting in the military. That new life begins with the Marines and includes his heroic achievements on the battlefield and the operating table, and finally, of his inspirational triumph over the demons caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that threatened to destroy him and his family.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Lieutenant Mark L. Donald is the most decorated U.S. Navy SEAL, but he is no conventional warrior. In the wake of September 11th, he fought and served as a medic in Afghanistan, saving lives and treating the wounded under fire even as he himself was developing the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that would later nearly destroy his family. In this gripping memoir, he writes about his medical training, his gut-wrenching battle experiences, and his post-war battles with the disability that tormented him.

Publishers Weekly
After humbly eschewing the “haunting label” of “hero,” Donald, with the help of Navy vet Mactavish (The New Dad’s Survival Guide), recounts his struggle to break free from an impoverished youth by joining the Marines and then the elite Navy SEALs, in whose service he fought and saved lives as a medic in Afghanistan. That experience left him with PTSD and an enduring desire to help veterans. Like most soldiers, he writes best about soldiering (the book is based on journals originally intended as part of his post-combat therapy), delivering a superb description of the infamously brutal weeding-out ordeal of SEAL training, the nuts-and-bolts duties of a medic, and the battle actions that won him the Navy Cross but claimed the lives of more than one close friend. Attempts to exorcise his personal demons back on the home front are less successful, but the suffering they point to is palpable. A few military memoirs—like Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead—gloriously break the bonds of their genre; Donald’s has no such ambition, but this is an admirable addition to the flourishing phenomenon of SEALs sharing their stories in print. Its audience will welcome the familiar macho elements no less than the original, often horrific medical details. 16-page color photo insert. (Mar.)
From The Critics

"Although he doesn't like the term, Mark is a true American hero.  Battle Ready is a well-written journey from training to combat to recovery."

—Howard Wasdin, New York Times bestselling author of Seal Team Six

Battle Ready is a compelling account of a remarkable American’s journey in the military. Mark Donald’s journey is unique and contains many lessons in life for everyone to reflect upon. There is no bravado and self-serving intent in this book. It is written from the heart from an American hero, and that alone makes it worth reading.”

—Wade Ishimoto, Former Senior Advisor to Assistant Secretary of Defense, Special Operations / Low Intensity Conflict

Library Journal
Donald joined the Marines to escape a dysfunctional home after high school. Over the course of his career, he developed into a tough warrior, a Navy SEAL, a medic, and a physician’s assistant. He’s traveled the road from student to instructor and from training in the waters off Coronado to the deserts of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan. He was a reluctant hero, who saw comrades and friends killed in action, who saved many more, and who came home a changed man. He details those firefights, his struggles with PTSD, and how he found the help that he needed through the love and support of family, fellow SEALs, and service organizations. This book is similar to Service: Lone Survivor, a Navy SEAL at Work by Marcus Luttrell.
VERDICT An entertaining inside look at the psyche of special operations warriors, this book will be of interest to those who enjoy military memoirs, with an emphasis on special ops and military medicine, along with a side look at PTSD and its issues.—Martha Bauder, LTC, U.S. Army Reserve Physician

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Life story of a warrior with an unusual dual specialty--Navy SEAL and combat medic--told with plainspoken stoicism. In this book co-authored by Mactavish, Donald examines his rarefied position in the pantheon of Special Forces veterans: "the highest decorated Medical Service Corps officer in the history of the Navy and the first medical officer of any corps…to receive a Navy Cross since Vietnam." Yet, by the end of this sprawling memoir, his feelings about his expansive battlefield experience are decidedly ambivalent: "War is not an esoteric chess game...I no longer believed the answer required an army on foreign soil." Unlike other recent SEAL memoirs, Donald does not go into detail about his upbringing, early service as an elite Reconnaissance Marine, or the crucible of SEAL training and its notorious "Hell Week." Instead, after his first combat experience on a SEAL team in the 1991 Iraq War, he explains his gradual transition into practicing as a medic. He attended the Navy's elite physician assistant program--even as his first marriage dissolved and he dealt with the emotional aftershocks from combat, both of which he terms common among Special Forces operators. The book's centerpiece is a harrowingly told account of an extended battle with Afghan insurgents, for which he received the Navy Cross, a distinction about which he feels deep misgivings, having lost two comrades there. In the concluding chapters, Donald describes his decision to retire, coming to terms with the grueling experience of combat and his wish to keep working with SF veterans through advocacy groups. The narrative is rambling at points, and some of the noncombat interactions feel stagey, but this memoir raises hard questions about the toll American policy takes on its professional warrior class. Straightforward reflections on what it takes to be the most elite sort of soldier and the hidden costs of that life.
From the Publisher
“This candid memoir by a NavySEAL medic is given a vigorous reading by Fred Berman…Most important, his overall performance winsomely conveys the author’s humility.” – AudioFile Magazine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312600754
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/12/2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 166,679
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

MARK L. DONALD, the son of a retired U.S. Army Warrant Officer and a Mexican mother, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps before transferring to the Navy to train as a Corpsman. He subsequently completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training and served in SEALs until 1996 when he was selected for the Intra-service Physician Assistant Program. He graduated from the University of Nebraska and was commissioned a Medical Service Corps officer. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, he was assigned as operational medical support to special operations where he served in a number of capacities until his retirement. Donald was awarded the Navy Cross, the highest medal awarded by the Department of the Navy, for extraordinary heroism while engaged in enemy action against Al Qaeda fighters in southern Afghanistan. He lives in Chesapeake, Virginia.

DWIGHT JON ZIMMERMAN is an award-winning author and producer and a member of the Military Writers Society of America.

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Read an Excerpt

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.
Those who know me understand I never intended to write a book, but over the years of learning how to cope with combat stress, I realized how cathartic writing had become. What started as an adjunct to therapy became an incredible psychological release. However, as my notes turned into journals I discovered the writing was less about me and more about the individuals and events that shaped my life. I felt compelled to tell others dealing with similar demons what I had learned, but I shunned the idea of letting anyone read what I had written—not because of a lack of writing ability but more from a reluctance to expose personal aspects of my life that I have kept hidden from even my own wife. As you will find out, I am neither the all-American boy nor a conquering warrior. I am simply a man who held many titles over his military career; some I worked very hard to attain, while others were simply assignments. The most difficult and at times haunting label that I have had to contend with is “hero.”
I am not a hero, but I know many worthy of the title. I have had the distinct honor to serve among them for most of my career. I dedicated my life to preserving theirs. I trained with them for battle, bandaged them in combat, and listened to their revelations about life, everything from the birth of their first child to the burial of their closest friends. I am a man who worked hard to serve among the world’s most elite warriors. I am a sailor who to the detriment of his own family placed service for his country and teammates above all else. A medical officer who struggled to maintain an oath to preserve life through medicine while taking lives in the defense of his country. A veteran who still suffers from the mental scars of war but through the grace of God, the love of my wife, and the support of the families of the fallen learned how to deal with it before it destroyed me. I am a Navy SEAL who lived by a creed and did what was expected. I am a lot of things, but a hero is not one of them.
The awards I received represent the actions of a team, not the deeds of a single man. I know how each citation reads, and I am not trivializing what is written. The line between hero and fool is razor thin, and it was the actions of the team that allowed me the opportunity to do what was required. Had the others not provided cover, coordinated air support, or maneuvered on the enemy as I moved under fire I would be buried at Arlington right now, my legacy viewed much differently. Truth be told, they, the team, are the reasons why I wear these medals, and I am honored to have received them on their behalf.
Until I wore the medals, I never understood their true significance. Our nation’s medals represent more than the actions of any team on a single day. They embody the principles upon which our government was founded and are a tangible depiction of our military’s core values: honor, courage, and commitment. The fact that the nation’s top three medals for valor require a multitude of evidence only demonstrates the reverence our country has for them. However, it is my personal belief that this same standard of inviolability has also prevented many of my brethren from receiving awards commensurate with their actions. These are the heroes of whom I speak: Americans who, when asked to face danger and adversity, continually answered the call, not for notoriety or distinction but solely out of their love for their country, family, and teammates. They are the quiet and often unknown professionals of special operations and the parents, wives, and children who support them. They are both whom I served and to whom I am forever indebted.
Out of respect of their privacy, to protect those who continue to carry the sword and for reasons of national security, many names, locations, dates, and circumstances have been changed or omitted. If you are reading this in an attempt to discover information about special operations, I recommend you look elsewhere. If you’re curious about the internal struggles of a combat medic, dedicated to saving lives but forced to take them, this book is for you.

Copyright © 2013 by Mark L. Donald

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

    What an amazing story! Mark Donald gives an extremely though-pro

    What an amazing story! Mark Donald gives an extremely though-provoking memoir, ideal for those who want to better understand the hearts and minds of our military men and women who are coping with the effects of combat stress. He gives a very personal account of his journey, first as a young man looking for direction and meaning in life who joins the marines, then as a combat medic and SEAL, and finally in his many support roles on returning from combat. In this story, the reader gets views of the intense bonds of friendship and acts of bravery that abound in the SEAL teams. At its heart, the story describes the internal stress that combat takes on Mark in his dual role as a warrior and a medic. Through this journey he reveals his own difficulties in trying to deal with PTSD alone and the need to reach out to others in the military community. Mark Donald is a man of strength and courage, tempered with humility and faith. He continues to serve by reaching out to those in need and helping others understand the effects of combat stress.

    I highly recommend this book for anyone trying to understand the internal struggle of those coping with PTSD. Mark Donald's story provides and inspiration for all of us to try to better understand and support our military men and women returning from combat. His detailed account of his own personal struggles also serve as an inspiration to all of us to reach for support in times of need and a reminder that people want to help, if only you let them.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013

    I picked up this book to read because of this sentence in the de

    I picked up this book to read because of this sentence in the description: "Battle Ready dramatically immerses the reader in the unique life of the elite warrior-medic who advances into combat with life-saving equipment in one hand and life-taking weapons in the other."

    I was interested to find out how a man would handle those conflicting ideals and emotions. Mr. Donald does an excellent job revealing his inner struggles, and the incredible sacrifice he and others have made in the name of our country, both while they are deployed and while they are at home. There isn't any sugar-coating in this book. Mr. Donald openly and honestly traces his struggles with PTSD and the demons that go along with it. His bare honestly will break your heart at times. That he has overcome so much and continues to serve by working with other Veterans is astonishing.

    As a nation we need to be grateful to the men and women of our armed forces who willingly put themselves on the physical, mental and emotional line for us. This book tells so much of what those troops deal with that no one ever talks about. Battle Ready also sheds a light on how much the families of our troops suffer and sacrifice, perhaps even more at times than the troops. Every American should read this book.

    Thank you Mr. Donald, for baring you soul to tell this story that so desperately needed to be told.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    I admit I purchased this book after talking with Mark Donald at

    I admit I purchased this book after talking with Mark Donald at a book signing in a B&N in Arkansas. It was a very interesting read, and I only wish I had read the book first, and could talk to him now! Unbelievable personal story of intensity and drive.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2013

    "battle ready" is an amazing seal team 6 memoir by one

    "battle ready" is an amazing seal team 6 memoir by one of its top medics who was highly decorated and severed in countless battles and is responsible for saving numourous lifes. this is one of the best seal team memoirs that I have read in a long time he went through boot camp and after having to serve on the front lines in some of the toughest battles he lived tell about it amazing story great gift idea. also recamended: once a marine by nick popadich guns up by johnnie m clark gunners glory by johnnie m clark

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

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    Posted June 2, 2013

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