Soldiers Once: My Brother and the Lost Dreams of America's Veterans [NOOK Book]

Overview


Catherine Whitney’s brother, Vietnam veteran Jim Schuler, died at just fifty-three years old, while living in a flophouse. It had been sixteen years since, in one of his drunken rages, he had last seen his family. He was one of countless veterans who never recovered from the trauma of war and the stress of returning to live in a country that didn’t care about his pain.

The story of what happened to Whitney’s brother resonates with humanity and has a clear relevance to current ...

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Soldiers Once: My Brother and the Lost Dreams of America's Veterans

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Overview


Catherine Whitney’s brother, Vietnam veteran Jim Schuler, died at just fifty-three years old, while living in a flophouse. It had been sixteen years since, in one of his drunken rages, he had last seen his family. He was one of countless veterans who never recovered from the trauma of war and the stress of returning to live in a country that didn’t care about his pain.

The story of what happened to Whitney’s brother resonates with humanity and has a clear relevance to current national concerns. Soldiers Once puts a very human face on veterans’ policies, finding in Whitney’s personal drama a broader significance. It is both an investigation into her brother’s loss and a meditation on the lost dreams of our military brotherhood.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Veteran ghostwriter and coauthor Whitney (Where Have All the Leaders Gone?) now writes in her own voice about her brother Jim Schuler, a vet who served three tours in Vietnam and died penniless and alone in 2001 at age 53. Whitney also offers her take on many issues-such as PTSD, veterans' benefits and homelessness- affecting American veterans of wars from WWI to Iraq and Afghanistan. Whitney presents little that is new on these subjects. The parts of the book dealing with her brother and family are more fully realized, although much of that narrative, including Jim Schuler's service in Vietnam and his postwar army career, is based mostly on speculation since he had little contact with his estranged family. Whitney herself was adamantly against the Vietnam War, something her troubled brother never forgot or forgave. Whitney thus only partially succeeds in her "mission" to "find" her brother, and her account fails to meet the standard of the one invoked in the title, Gen. Hal Moore and Joe Galloway's classic We Were Soldiers Once... and Young. 8 pages of b&w photos. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Prolific ghostwriter Whitney takes her veteran brother's untimely death-alone at age 53 with just $62 in his bank account-as a starting point for this meditation on what it means to be a veteran in America. The nation's ambivalence toward its veterans, the author suggests, is reflected in the contrast between words and deeds, between the ubiquity of yellow "support our troops" magnets on one hand and the number of veterans without adequate institutional support on the other. Whitney feels ambivalent about her estrangement from her brother, who served three tours in Vietnam as a combat engineer while she attended antiwar rallies stateside. "His resentment survived the decades," she writes. "I was his Jane Fonda, the one who could never be forgiven." Their personal conflict turned ugly nearly a decade after the war ended, and Jim disappeared to suffer his demons in solitude. Whitney persuasively argues that her brother's fate is common among veterans of all ages. All but forgotten today, World War I veterans who had gathered in a tent city to shame the Hoover administration into raising their benefits were fired upon by troops ordered to the scene by Douglas MacArthur, who had convinced the president that the agitators were communists. Even the Greatest Generation vets, held up as models for the supposedly selfish Boomers of the Vietnam era, are not immune to the psychologically devastating effects of war. Whitney recounts numerous stories of retirees revisiting the horrors of long-ago battles with delayed posttraumatic stress disorder. More recently, veterans have had to fight an entrenched bureaucracy and partisan politicians to have their service-connected disabilities even recognized,let alone attended to. Though Whitney's goal-to redress a wrong she feels she participated in against her brother and other veterans-is admirable, she ultimately becomes just another voice of complaint against a notoriously unjust system. She scolds but doesn't offer a vision of how the system must change. A poignant memoir and consciousness-raiser, but not the clarion call that our veterans require. Author tour to New York and Washington, D.C.
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews, 4/15/09
Whitney persuasively argues that her brother’s fate is common among veterans of all ages…Whitney’s goal—to redress a wrong she feels she participated in against her brother and other veterans—is admirable...A poignant memoir and consciousness-raiser.”

Publishers Weekly, 3/30/09
“[Whitney] offers her take on many issues—such as PTSD, veterans' benefits and homelessness—affecting American veterans of wars from WWI to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

BookPage, May 2009
“[Whitney] reflects on the costs of war for a new generation of soldiers sent to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Soldiers Once is part memoir, part meditation and a thoughtful look at the impact of war.”

Military Heritage, 8/09
“A poignant memoir.”

Roanoke Times, 5/24/09
“A remarkably frank account…Should resonate with anyone who has served or had family who served…Soldiers Once is like reveille; it is intended to make us all roll out of our comfortable cots and attend to our duty."

WNTI Radio Online
“[A] tragic and heart-breaking story.”

Army Times, Marine Corp Times, Navy Time, and Air Force Times, 6/29/09
“A heartfelt history of the treatment of America’s veterans…Poignant.”

ForeWord, July/Aug 2009
“Whitney writes with a simple elegance that compares with Ron Kovic’s iconic Born on the Fourth of July…She vividly shows how her brother was a victim, along with thousands of other vets who have died or who are living lives of slow death.”

Augusta Metro Spirit, 7/29/09
“A stunning portrait of the life of a soldier…The author allows readers to empathize with the events of a singular person when considering the issues facing a multitude of people…A poignant personal story that speaks to greater issues facing today's administration as well as tomorrow’s.”

Veterans Reporter (Southern Nevada Edition), September issue “[A] strong, poignant read.”

Gallup Independent, NM. 11/29/2009
“Why is it that dads and granddads are always so hard to buy for? If that’s your dad or grandpa, then here’s an easy gift.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786748013
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 5/12/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • File size: 917 KB

Meet the Author


Catherine Whitney has ghostwritten and co-authored over thirty books, including several bestsellers, such as Where Have All the Leaders Gone? She lives in New York.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Armchair Patriots xi

Prologue: Taps 1

1 Final Journey Home 9

2 An Army of Youth 21

3 Jim's War 37

4 Dust in the Wind 63

5 Full Retreat 87

6 All That You Can't Be 97

7 Brother Lost 115

8 Do You Remember Me? 127

9 Finding Jim 145

10 Watch Fires Burning 161

Epilogue: Dear Brother 175

Resources for Veterans 179

Notes 189

Index 205

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    FIVE STARS---SOLDIERS ONCE STANDS TALL FOR AMERICA'S VETERANS

    Writer Catherine Whitney deserves our thanks for lending her tremendous talents to this touching memoir about her brother and all of our valiant veterans. This is a deeply moving and absorbing meditation on the plight of our men and women in the armed forces. It is meant to reach out to all veterans and their families in helping them to better understand their loved ones. The honest truth concerning the treatment of some of our nation's greatest heroes, and how so many of our veterans are rewarded for their sacrifice, is devastating. It is up to each of us, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs, to apply compassion in its treatment of those who have fought and served. Tremendous research and gripping composition make this book a keeper. Author Catherine Whitney deserves the thanks of our Nation. As Miss Whitney makes resoundingly clear, we must give more support to our military brotherhood. And we must make it our individual responsibility to never forget. These veterans may be your husband, your father, your brother, your uncle, or your son. Pray for those who have fallen----remember the many who return stateside with deep wounds---many with wounds we are unable to see. We may not be able to detect them with the naked eye, but they are there. Staff Sergeant James Schuler would have been proud of his sister for how she has chosen to honor him and all other veterans. I was deeply moved by this compelling story. Powerfully told. Beautifully written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2009

    GREAT MEMOIR---GREAT VETERANS BOOK

    LOVED THIS. AND IT MADE ME SAD. GREAT LESSONS FOR ALL. TOUCHING STORIES. GOD BLESS AMERICA. FIVE STARS--THIS SHOULD BE A BEST SELLER.

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