The Eagle on My Arm: How the Wilderness and Birds of Prey Saved a Veteran's Life

The Eagle on My Arm: How the Wilderness and Birds of Prey Saved a Veteran's Life

The Eagle on My Arm: How the Wilderness and Birds of Prey Saved a Veteran's Life

The Eagle on My Arm: How the Wilderness and Birds of Prey Saved a Veteran's Life


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In October 1967, eighteen-year-old Patrick Bradley enlisted in the US Army and was later deployed to Vietnam to map mobile POW camps to determine a pattern for rescuing prisoners. Combat left him physically and psychologically wounded, as it does many veterans, and Bradley struggled to adjust when he returned home. He seemed destined for military prison after an altercation in which he broke a superior officer's jaw, but his life changed forever when a psychiatrist recommended a unique path for healing.

Thanks to a program sponsored by the Canadian government, Bradley traveled to Canada to study bald eagles and document their behavior. He found himself recovering while living alone in the wild with minimal supplies or human contact. At the same time, his work was paving the way for groundbreaking research, including the discovery of a link between the use of the pesticide DDT and a decrease in southern bald eagle populations. Later, he forged a successful career training and managing wild animals and committed himself to helping other wounded warriors by cofounding the Avian Veteran Alliance, a nonprofit that pairs veterans suffering from PTSD and physical injuries with injured birds of prey.

The Eagle on My Arm tells Bradley's inspirational story for the first time. This moving account reveals how a soldier became a dedicated healer, using his years of study and solitude to face his demons and turn his pain into a lifelong passion for helping others.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813180021
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 10/13/2020
Series: American Warriors Series
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dava Guerin is the author or coauthor of six books, including Rebuilding Sergeant Peck, Vets and Pets, and Unbreakable Bonds. She is a communications consultant and freelance writer and previously served as communications director for the US Association of Former Members of Congress in Washington, D.C. She is an active supporter of Barbara Bush's Foundation for Family Literacy and the Gary Sinise Foundation. She lives in Sarasota, Florida. Terry Bivens (1946–2019) was an award-winning journalist, highly ranked Wall Street analyst, and coauthor of Rebuilding Sergeant Peck. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Business Week, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and his 1991 series for the Philadelphia Inquirer was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Table of Contents

Foreword Jack E. Davis ix

Foreword Floyd Scholz xiii

Introduction 1

1 The Unlikely Healer 4

2 Prison or the Canadian Wilderness 14

3 Survive or Die 19

4 The Search for Peace and the Bald Eagle 24

5 Back to Civilization 31

6 From Reptiles to Red-Tailed Hawks 37

7 Back to the Eagles 54

8 Go West, Young Man 56

9 The Short, Unhappy Life of a High Roller 68

10 Carol 73

11 The Art of Training Wild Animals 76

12 PTSD Diagnosis 82

13 Skyler's Demons 88

14 Bay Pines VA Hospital's Gamble 98

15 Avian Veteran Alliance Takes Flight 104

16 Telia's Transformation 110

17 Joe, the Combat Medic 116

18 Steve Got His Wings 123

19 Wild Birds of Prey in Captivity 128

20 The Healing Power of Owls and Hawks 136

21 A Star Is Born 143

22 Love Birds That Met the President 151

23 New Adventures 157

Epilogue 165

Acknowledgments 168

Photos follow page 74

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

The Eagle on My Arm shows how one wounded warrior reclaimed his life through bonding with birds of prey. In many ways, I find this book as attractive as Helen Macdonald's H Is for Hawk. Overall, the authors leave readers with a sense of admiration for Bradley and his vision. It's hard not to smile after reading the last chapter." — William E. Smith, vice president of the board of directors of Growing Veterans

"Readers will enjoy this important look at one veteran's path to finding solace and meaning after war. Bradley has helped thousands of veterans heal from the visible and invisible wounds of war, including veterans of the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. His story is both inspirational and educational. It is a must-read for those who want to learn about veterans' postwar struggles." — Travis Martin, chair of the Veteran Studies Advisory Board at Eastern Kentucky University

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