Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War

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When SPC Kayla Williams and SGT Brian McGough met at a mountain outpost in Iraq in 2003, only their verbal sparring could have betrayed a hint of attraction. Neither could have predicted the sequence of events that would shape their lives.
Brian, on his way back to base after mid-tour leave, was wounded by a roadside bomb that sent shrapnel through his brain. Kayla waited anxiously for news and, on returning home, sought out Brian. The two began a tentative romance and later ...

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Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War

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When SPC Kayla Williams and SGT Brian McGough met at a mountain outpost in Iraq in 2003, only their verbal sparring could have betrayed a hint of attraction. Neither could have predicted the sequence of events that would shape their lives.
Brian, on his way back to base after mid-tour leave, was wounded by a roadside bomb that sent shrapnel through his brain. Kayla waited anxiously for news and, on returning home, sought out Brian. The two began a tentative romance and later married, but neither anticipated the consequences of Brian’s injury on their lives. Lacking essential support for returning veterans from the military and the VA, Kayla and Brian suffered through posttraumatic stress amplified by his violent mood swings, her struggles to reintegrate into a country still oblivious to women veterans, and what seemed the callous, consumerist indifference of civilian society at large.
Kayla persevered. So did Brian. They fought for their marriage, drawing on remarkable reservoirs of courage and commitment. They confronted their demons head-on, impatient with phoniness of any sort. Inspired by an unwavering ethos of service, they continued to stand on common ground. Finally, they found their own paths to healing and wholeness, both as individuals and as a family, in dedication to a larger community.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Following a harrowing war experience, Williams (Love My Rifle More than Me) shows readers a view of veterans often absent from current American media: the healing of and love between two battle-traumatized U.S. Army veterans exhausted from facing inner demons and struggles with bureaucratic red tape. In October 2003, Sgt. Williams, an Arabic linguist with the 101st Airborne Division, was smitten with a fellow soldier, Brian McGough, who was severely wounded with a brain injury caused by shrapnel from a roadside bomb in Iraq. Stateside, the two marry, but post-traumatic stress derails McGough’s re-integration into the civilian world. Williams not only details his erratic behavior—the heavy drinking and his abusive treatment of her—but also her own struggles in a nation largely insensitive to its female warriors. Both of these vets survive a slew of challenges in their psychological battles, overcoming the defects of their start-and-stop union with grit, love, and a sympathetic support network of former troops. Rising above recent memoirs by celebrated female soldiers, Williams’s account is ruthlessly raw and objective, aiding our greater understanding of the obstacles faced by veterans stateside. Includes an appendix of resources for military veterans. (Feb.)
Gregg LaGambina
“A reminder that the best books… impart a sense of shared experience, and to read them is to participate in humanity.”
Library Journal
Author of Love My Rifle More Than You, a forthright account of one woman's service in Iraq that inspired raves and a few protests, Williams opens with her concern for fellow soldier Brian McGough, injured by a roadside bomb. Back home, they marry but are nearly undone by the consequences of McGough's traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. With a seven-city tour.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-11-26
An Iraq War veteran chronicles the emotionally raw, disarmingly candid saga of herself and her fellow veteran husband returning to civilian life psychologically and physically wounded. Williams previously shared her brutal saga of being female in a combat zone (Love My Rifle More Than You, 2005), alluding to it occasionally in this follow-up memoir. While in combat, she briefly met and felt close to Brian McGough. But he moved to a new assignment, where he suffered a severe brain injury from an explosive device. Stationed back in the United States, Williams located McGough, and they began a romantic relationship marked by threatened and actual violence due to his post-traumatic stress disorder and her undiagnosed psychological disabilities. Their military commands and the Veterans Administration seemed ill-equipped to deal sensitively and competently with such disabilities. In excruciating detail, Williams shares scenes from a marriage almost certain to explode. Even when she was away from her husband, Williams struggled with certain aspects of everyday life. Shopping alone in a gigantic Wal-Mart, she was overwhelmed by the variety of products, resentful that the civilian population was so spoiled, and anxiety-ridden that she could not view any store exits from the endless aisles of merchandise. Though counseling by civilians and military personnel occasionally helped both the author and her husband, progress toward a normal life seemed illusory--at best, one step forward and two steps back. How Williams and McGough partially conquered the demons, saved their marriage, began to rear children and helped countless other damaged veterans makes for an inspiring but never maudlin narrative. The memoir is certainly not a feminist tract, but Williams does examine the special adjustment problems of female combat veterans. A brave book filled with gore and trauma--and superb storytelling. A perfect complement to David Finkel's Thank You for Your Service (2013).
Marie Tillman
“A must-read for military spouses, caregivers, and anyone hoping to gain an understanding of the challenges faced by soldiers coming home. Kayla and Brian’s perseveranceis a tribute to the power of the human spirit to not only survive but to thrive.”
Lee Woodruff
“Part heartache, hard truth, love story, and an insider’s look at the back end of war, this book offers us a look behind the uniforms and the parades and into the damage of war’s wounds. In the end, it is a story about how love can ultimately heal.”
Tanya Biank
“Kayla Williams’s raw, honest, and take-no-prisoners prose gives service members and families scarred by war the greatest gift of all—hope.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393239362
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/10/2014
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 799,514
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Kayla Williams, a former Arabic linguist in the U.S. Army, is the author of Love My Rifle More than You and Plenty of Time When We Get Home. She lives with her husband Brian and their two children in Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    Insightful view of the reality of coming home from war

    True story about the reality of post deployed life as a married couple both suffering from PTSD and a traumatic brain injury sustained by the authors husband while deployed in Iraq create a stressed, emotionaly exhausting, relationship. The VA WAS HARDLY PREPARED for the infux of so many vets returning with devastating injuries both physical and mental. Too many of our vets fell through appaulingly huge holes in the system. This couple is one such set of patients to suffer the consequences. But the book is not all foom and gloom. In the end. The Pheonix rises for this couple and their two young chilldren. A tale of trial,tribulation, hellish healing, and jubilation. And all true

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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