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Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home

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They were once known by the famous moniker, “Band of Brothers.” Now, 60 years later, the notorious army unit from Fort Carson, Colorado calls themselves the “Lethal Warriors,” having seen the worst of the violence in Iraq. Many of its members are plagued by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and some, misdiagnosed or untreated since returning from war, embarked on drug-fuelled crime sprees, some of which resulted in murder. Here, David Philipps applies his piercing insight and relentless investigative skills ...

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Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home

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Overview

They were once known by the famous moniker, “Band of Brothers.” Now, 60 years later, the notorious army unit from Fort Carson, Colorado calls themselves the “Lethal Warriors,” having seen the worst of the violence in Iraq. Many of its members are plagued by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and some, misdiagnosed or untreated since returning from war, embarked on drug-fuelled crime sprees, some of which resulted in murder. Here, David Philipps applies his piercing insight and relentless investigative skills not only to this particular unit, but to the broader issue of PTSD as it rages throughout the country. He highlights the inspiring story of General Mark Graham, a former commander at Fort Carson and one of the few officers who had the vision and guts to recognize PTSD as a growing problem with soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and to do something about it. Graham has opened his doors to the community for help, speaking candidly about the issue and offering a potential lifeline to the soldiers, and a solution to this deadly problem.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

The shameful story of how the U.S. Army has played a role in the mistreatment of traumatized soldiers who served in Iraq, then returned to Fort Carson, Colo., to commit rapes, murders and other violent crimes.

Colorado Springs Gazette features writer Philipps grew up in Colorado Springs, the locale of Fort Carson. Earlier this decade, he began to learn about the post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) suffered by thousands of returning Army infantrymen who both saw and committed atrocities in Iraq. (The same phenomenon is unfolding among American soldiers returning from Afghanistan, but that is not the focus here.) The author looks at soldiers from one specific combat team, some of whom dubbed themselves "the lethal warriors," patterned loosely on the now-famous Band of Brothers from World War II. As the book opens in December 2007, a Colorado Springs newspaper carrier finds one of the PTSD-disabled soldiers, Kevin Shields, dead on the street. Somebody murdered Shields, but at first police and Fort Carson authorities could not identify a viable suspect. It turns out that Shields' colleagues from Iraq killed their comrade. Some of the rampaging Fort Carson personnel had built up criminal records before joining the military, but others had not, and certainly none had been previously convicted of a violent crime. Philipps names names as he demonstrates an entire military chain of command in denial about the very existence of PTSD. The few commanders who would acknowledge the problem refused to institute meaningful treatment or safeguards to protect innocent bystanders from assaults. However, the author does identify one military hero from the PTSD realm—Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, who took charge of Fort Carson and supported treatment programs that have reduced the carnage in Colorado Springs.

A searing exposé that might make readers wonder how Army commanders and civilian warmongers sleep at night given the disgraceful handling of traumatized veterans who fought in Iraq.

From the Publisher
"When the war started, almost a decade ago, we were told we had to fight it in Iraq and Afghanistan so that we wouldn't have to fight it at home. But as our soldiers return from battle, it has become increasingly clear that they are bringing the trauma of war to our doorstep. In exploring the creeping effects of PTSD and its heart wrenching consequences on our veterans, and on our society at large, Philipps' book is a clarion call to both support our troops and to think twice when assessing the true costs of war."— Susan Sarandon 

"David Philipps' Lethal Warriors is a must-read for every American. In compelling and heart-healing stories, he tells the story of the other war—the one at home."—Tom Brokaw

 

"A startling and compelling human drama that exposes the raw truth: that the cause of PTSD lies not within the soldier who suffers it, but in the nature of war itself, and what we ask them to endure. David Philipps shows that 'supporting our troops' must mean far more than cheering them on in the field. This book is a must for anyone who cares about our soldiers, the lives of those they touch, and what kind of a country we aspire to be." —Richard North Patterson, bestselling author of Balance of Power and Exile

"This important and compassionate book will save lives. I found myself weeping with sympathy and sadness for both the murderers and their victims, and boiling with anger at the chain of neglect and ignorance, within and outside of the military, that led to murders that could have been avoided. This book needs to be read by the families of every returning combat veteran. It needs to be read by professionals in mental health institutions, the military, departments of veterans’ affairs, and all leaders who care for the safety of their communities. It needs to be read by all of us who care about those who faithfully served those communities in war and returned forever changed." — Karl Marlantes, bestselling author of Matterhorn

"Even for the survivors of close combat, the emotional impact can be devastating. David Philipps' heartbreaking book is a detailed and tragic record of this impact, and the Army's and society's struggles to deal with the consequences. Every American should read this book — it is that significant for our Army, and for our country. " — General Wesley K. Clark (ret.)

“In Lethal Warriors, Dave Philipps unravels one of the most horrifying stories of the Iraq War, the dark saga of the 4th Brigade of the 4th Infantry...Philipps’ book has the promise that it may bring to life the devastating impact of the damage wrought by the Iraq War—violence that is even more disturbing because it takes place on the home front.”  Statement from the jury of the Anthony J. Lukas Awards

Praise for Dave Phillipps and “Casualties of War,” published in July 2009 in the Colorado Springs Gazette: “Staggering, gruesome and heartbreaking.” — On the Media, National Public Radio

Praise for Dave Phillipps and “Casualties of War,” published in July 2009 in the Colorado Springs Gazette:  "Jaw-dropping.” — Kyra Phillips, CNN

Praise for Dave Phillipps and “Casualties of War,” published in July 2009 in the Colorado Springs Gazette:  “Thoughtful, carefully researched, and beautifully written… It’s the kind of story that wins Pulitzer Prizes, that illuminates and informs, and that delights all of us who work for and/or love newspapers.” — Colorado Business Journal

 

Praise for Dave Phillipps and “Casualties of War,” published in July 2009 in the Colorado Springs Gazette:  "A fascinating and long overdue account of the consequences of the Iraq war on the soldiers who fought it, their families and the wider community."—Tim Pritchard, author of Ambush Alley

 

Praise for Dave Phillipps and “Casualties of War,” published in July 2009 in the Colorado Springs Gazette: "A searing exposé that might make readers wonder how Army commanders and civilian warmongers sleep at night given the disgraceful handling of traumatized veterans who fought in Iraq.”

Kirkus

 

The Barnes & Noble Review

If you'd like to know the toll that our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can take on the lives of innocent Americans here in the States, look no further than the case of Erica Ham: one early morning in Colorado Springs while the nineteen-year-old woman walked toward a bus stop she was purposely struck from behind by a car. Her body rested on the hood of the vehicle, until an occupant of the vehicle dragged her to the ground, punched her repeatedly in the face, stabbed her in the left eye and in the lungs, stole her backpack, and left her to die; as she fell into shock and stumbled to her feet, looking for help, another assailant pointed a pistol at her and told her to stay on the ground.

The perpetrators of this senseless, near-deadly assault were members of an Army unit from Fort Carson, Colorado that saw some of the worst fighting in Baghdad during 2005 and 2006. The 506th Infantry Regiment were the storied Nazi killers of World War Two, whose combat feats and shared suffering had inspired the monicker "Band of Brothers." A reconstituted version of the unit took on the nickname "Lethal Warriors." And they brought their lethality home to Colorado Springs.

In Lethal Warriors David Philipps does an uncompromising, even heroic, job of unraveling the root causes, the meaning, and the implications of the violence these young men visited on Erica Ham and the destruction that other men from their unit practiced on the population of Colorado Springs. He links the extreme carnage the men witnessed, as well as the illegal acts many participated in there, with a subsequent condition of moral impairment. Returning soldiers were ready to booze up, drug up, and armor themselves against all threats real and imagined. The city of Colorado Springs and the command structure at Fort Carson were totally unprepared for the tsunami that returned with these warriors. The numbers alone provide a shock: "Arrests of military personnel in the city shot up 65% between 2005 and 2006."

But the significance of the book isn't only to reveal the problems facing these returned soldiers. Philipps wants to dispel the popular myth that the Vietnam War was the first conflict which saw combat veterans suffering the severe and debilitating psychological wounds that, left untreated, have the potential to wreak havoc on the civilian populace. The cycle, as a few statistics show, is as old as the idea of the demobilized soldier: after a post-Civil War uptick in New York City crime, the Times noted that it was caused by "rough material turned loose upon society by the close of the war." The chapter "Casualties of War" follows this thread and provides an engrossing and enlightening distillation of the last thirty years of PTSD research and theory. That chapter alone -- in which Philipps matches his keen journalistic eye to a storyteller's timing and a social historian's breadth of research -- is worth the price of admission.

In a world where this account of the history of combat trauma is little understood, the "bad apple" theory is instead often used to dismiss the toxic aftermath of front-line service. And some of the men Philipps portrays in the book had had trouble with the law before joining the Army and/or came from fractured families. But the overwhelming evidence from an epidemiological research project of Fort Carson soldiers supports the fact that, while these men might have become scofflaws, their experiences at war hard-wired them for violence and criminality: "war nudged guys that might have struggled with minor crime into something major."

The list of villains in this book is long: the criminals themselves; the sergeants and commanders that ridiculed psychologically damaged soldiers; the overall Army culture of machismo and the undermanned Army sent to fight by clueless politicians; doctors who pumped kids full of psychotropics in order to keep them in the fight; social workers who facilitated the illegal and amoral general discharges of combat-injured warriors who should've received medical discharges.

But there are a few heroes: Georg-Andreas Pogany, a former special forces interrogator and tireless advocate for soldiers' rights and mental health services; and the tragic-heroic General Mark Graham, who'd lost his own two sons to the Army -- one a suicide while enrolled in ROTC, another a greatly admired lieutenant killed in the streets of Iraq while at battle. Graham has done radical things to protect the mental health of combat soldiers, including the design and implementation of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program.

Still, as long as we wage wars, young men will return from battlefields scarred and hurting, prone to violence, damaged, frail, and at loose ends. Lethal Warriors is a new and brilliant perspective on these men and of the long-term costs that our warring costs us all.

--Anthony Swofford

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230104402
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 11/9/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David Philipps is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Enquirer, and The Seattle Times, among others. He works as a feature writer at the Colorado Springs Gazette, where his writing has won awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, and Best of the West. In 2008, he was given a national first place award for best feature reporting, for his coverage of environmental issues, from the Association of Sunday and Feature Editors. His coverage of the violence at Fort Carson led to national media appearances on CNN, NPR, and MSNBC. He lives in Colorado Springs, CO.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Foreword vi

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 "Y'all Can Forget Going to Iraq" 13

Chapter2 A Walt Disney Family 33

Chapter 3 Operation Mad Max 47

Chapter 4 Casualties of War 77

Chapter 5 Stands Alone 91

Chapter 6 "A Walking Time Bomb" 109

Chapter 7 "This Almost Painful Stillness" 119

Chapter 8 Heart of Darkness 129

Chapter 9 "Throw Me a Life Worth Living" 151

Chapter 10 Escalation of Force 163

Chapter 11 "Everybody does Stuff in Iraq. Everybody." 185

Chapter 12 "Reading is for the Lame, Go Shoot Someone" 195

Chapter 13 Fuel to the Fire 213

Chapter 14 Invisible Wounds 227

Chapter 15 Changing the Mindset 245

Postscript Where are They Now? 255

Notes 259

Index 269

Acknowledgements viii

Introduction 1

1 Protestant History and Imagination 9

2 Evangelicalism, Presbyterianism and Protestant Church Identity in Northern Ireland 37

3 Dealing with Peace through Forgiveness and Reconciliation 95

4 Catholic Perspectives 140

5 Ecumenism: A Case Study of the Inter-Church Group on Faith and Politics 174

6 Christianity in a 'Post-Conflict' Northern Ireland 209

Conclusion 235

Bibliography 243

Index 252

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 5, 2012

    I have decided I need to start this review by saying upfront tha

    I have decided I need to start this review by saying upfront that I have never supported the involvement of Americans and Canadian military in the war in Iraq. I am proudly Canadian, and while I do not support the war, I do support our men and women who have taken part in the war. I believe these people join the military to support their country and that is why I support them. And I feel the same about the American military personnel. That being said, I will also say that I was in two minds about reading and reviewing this book. I didn't particularly want to read about the war in Iraq, but I did want to see what the author had to say about PTSD.

    My papa was a boy in Finland in World War II. He and his family hid in the hills when the German army came through, and then again a few long years later, when the Russians came through chasing the remaining Germans back. He only spoke of it infrequently and usually only after something had caused him to be reminded of that time, some sound, some sight or some smell that would cause him to think back. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about the things he saw as a young boy, things he could do nothing about. Even writing this short amount brings to mind the look he would have on his face. That is actually why I decided to read this book, his look. I know that he suffered mental trauma because of what he went through, and I know that to deal with it, he drank. I believe that he suffered from PTSD and that is why i decided to read this.

    David Philipps takes us on a journey through the lives of several young men who volunteered to serve their country and served in the American Army. They served their country, were given several weeks, sometimes months of training in weaponry, tactics, fighting, shooting and physical endurance and then were returned to their own country broken, sad, struggling to cope in the aftermath of all they had witnessed and been involved in. With most receiving little to no help with their mental issues (I hate how that sounds, but I'm not sure how else to word it), they were sent home to their families and friends different people than when they had started in the military.

    Some coped well and returned to mainstream living with little or no discernible changes. Others suffered from insomnia, nightmares and other troubles that they were helped with and then returned to living with some help and were able to barely cope. Still others returned, denying to themselves and others, that they were suffering from any problems and then couldn't cope. They recieved no help and ended up in jail, charged with various crimes including murder, rape and assault. And still, these people who had served their country, were denied help.

    PTSD has been known by a variety of names including combat fatigue, and has existed as long as man has warred. It is a difficult disease to diagnos and treat, made harder by the stigma attached to mental illness and the don't ask, don't tell approach that is still seen today.
    The author does not excuse what these men did, but he does try to help explain the WHY. And also what the government, the military and the people themselves need to do to change the system and to get help for people suffering from PTSD.

    This book is not for the faint of heart, it goes through all the harrowing details of what these young men went through while they were serving in the army and the crimes they did when they returned home. It goes a long way to showing how PTSD changes lives and what can be done to combat PTSD in our military and in civilians as well.

    A very well researched, well written book. It gives an objective look at the trauma war causes to our troops and what can be done to help them heal from their experiences.

    The copy I have has an updated forward written in January 2012. It has a quote by journalist Tom Ricks that to me sums up the Iraqi War...'The Vietnam Memorial is a gash in the ground, like a grave, I think ideally, the Iraqi War memorial probably would ideally be a dead end.'

    I received my copy of Lethal Warriors through LibraryThing and my review was unsolicited.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended

    I was in this Brigade. I remember all the pressure that went from deploying from one combat zone to another. We had very little training going into Iraq. We had no Family Readiness Group established. Our families were spread all over the world. I saw death in every Soldiers eye in while deployed in Ramadi Iraq. We lost over 80 Soldiers. Then when we return we lied about having issues because we wanted to avoid having to see a doctor and delay seeing our families. I didn't understand PTSD then, and neither did the Army. There were some sick people from this brigade. This is a true story that continues to hunt the Soldiers from this unit.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    ABSOLUTELY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK!

    As the mother of a Marine who deployed, I was enlightened on how psychologically our warriors are affected and disappointed on how the military denies the facts that our warriors are struggling. I only hope the government will take the info in this book to heart and try to help our warriors before it is too late! This is real, not a ploy for sympathy and our country needs to be able to understand and take action. I feel horrible for all the parties involved (the innocent victims, the veterans and their families) but deeply appreciate the honesty shared. Unfortunately, this book only touches on a small portion of what our combat warriors go through while deployed. This book is telling it like it is whether we like it or not.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    I enjoyed every part of this book. It gave a great look at what

    I enjoyed every part of this book. It gave a great look at what these men went through during their time in Iraq and the suffering PTSD causes. Unfortunately, it takes events like the ones in this book for people to actually do something about prevention and support to those soldiers and family members returning from war.

    As a girlfriend of a soldier in the Army, this book educated me on the signs and symptoms of PTSD and gave me a good look at what to expect from my soldier when returning from a deployment. PTSD is an illness...not a sign of weakness, and I am prepared to support and help my soldier no matter his condition on returning home.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2012

    holy moly. this book gave me new eyes to everything i have ever

    holy moly. this book gave me new eyes to everything i have ever thought about war. i could not put this book down, and i feel incredibly lightened with a new morality to judging things i really had no idea about. Really learning about PTSD has definitely gave me something to try to be a part of helping soldiers with as much i can with my future career. I'm certain this book actually changed my life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2011

    Correlations with other areas

    I was recommended this book by a lawyer friend of mine who is defending a client with PTSD from some serious crimes. I have not been in the military and never had the desire to do so...however, reading this book, Philipps hits the nail on the head in at least one other area of life - which I am intimately familiar with: law enforcement.

    I read this book on the Nook, and many, many pages were then bookmarked and highlighted because what he wrote as being true in the military culture is true in police culture as well. That it takes a look at PTSD from an objective, outside point of view, without trying to make it into an 'agenda' but rather a study on why things are happening makes this book even more beneficial.

    Members of the military have been returning and have been different. Working in law enforcement I've seen more and more military members being arrested - and a lot of times for stupid crimes that not only make any sense but goes against the character that they exhibit even in jail. There has to be a reason for it. PTSD may be that reason. Once we can get others educated and remove the stigma of mental health problems (from both the military and our public service agencies) then maybe this trend can be reversed.

    Though it is not strongly presented, Phillips does present strong evidence for and against the diagnosis of PTSD in those whom he writes about. I think the Needham case becomes the strongest presentation that PTSD can and does exist and that it can and will change people. Most of the others he wrote about, PTSD can be shaken off as merely an 'excuse' for their crimes, but how does that explain those, like Needham, who did not have the crimingal, disadvantaged background and had full and loving support of their family both before and after their experiences in war.

    Only because he didn't present the contrary evidence strongly enough, in my opinion, regarding the possibility of other factors in most of his case studies do I drop the rating down a notch.

    Overall this is an excellent book and highly readable. I would not just recommend it to anyone with an interest in the affects of war, in an insight into military culture, psychology or PTSD itself but if I had bought this as a physical copy, I would shove it into their hands and make sure they read it.

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A powerful story!

    Lethal Warriors was an amazingly powerful story. It offers insight into a growing problem in the military, PTSD. Philipps, follows the stories of Iraqi war veterans and their struggles with physical and mental traumas of war. The author tells the story with details that help build relationships with the soldiers.

    My own experience with trauma in the military and PTSD drew me into the story. Philipps, showed the lack of understanding of PTSD in the military and the need for more understanding of the affects of mental and physical trauma.

    This is a must read! Anyone with a friend or family member that experienced military trauma should read this book.

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  • Posted December 25, 2010

    Excellent. Inside view on the total costs of War.

    I knew one of the people shot in this book and it does him justice. David Philipps does a great job of fleshing out perpetrators and the victims. They feel like real people. I think the greatest contribution of this work is delineating what combat stress injury(PTSD) is and how it effects a Soldier, a family, a Unit, and a Community. I would recommended it to other veterans( I already have), to the families of veterans, and anyone who wants to understand combat stress injury.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2010

    I wasn't able to decide whether I liked or hated this book at first.

    What I liked about it was the portrayal of the Infantry culture. It seemed to me that it was very similar to my own experiences. The author was also painfully accurate in the way he depicted the frustration and anger associated with the job. This first and foremost is fighting an enemy that detonates bombs and fires shots one minute only to disappear into the population the next. The second being what the author calls the groundhogs day effect. At the same time I hated it for portraying Infantry veterans as sociopaths. I thought that if I had no prior experience the message may get misunderstood. Because of my concern I contacted the author. He informed me this was not his intention. He told me he was telling the story and events leading up to that perfect storm situation in his home town. I found him very sincere in desire to make a positive contribution. After our correspondence I came to the conclusion that this was an important book to raise awareness to the invisible wounds that warriors of all generations have suffered. For those who have never served in a combat arms role I offer a few suggestions to make the message clearer. 1) Try not to get caught up in your own political views one way or the other. It is not important to those on the ground. 2) Realize that NOT all Infantrymen committed or witnessed war crimes. 3) Do NOT come away from this book thinking that every veteran is a ticking time bomb. It is important that veterans with problems get help. An irrational fear of them doesn't help anyone but instead puts up yet another barrier. Former Army Grunt Iraq 06-07 Afghanistan 09-10

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  • Posted November 9, 2010

    Highly Recommended!

    It is very well done. Dave Phillips tells the very real and sad story of those killed and those that killed. The story of this present war is complicated, and he highlights the fact that the killers were not innately evil, but started life at a disadvantage, and were trained to kill. We as a society have not figured out how to undo the training that makes our Soldiers so effective. The author did a tremendous job at putting the story together, pulling their ties with history of past wars and the struggle of those who lead. The story gives the reader tremendous insight into the Army life; the reasons people join, the reasons they stay, and the consequences in between. Army Doc

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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