'Charlie Mike': Soldiers Keep Serving after War

Stories about America's servicemen and women often focus on their valor and sacrifice in combat.

Recently, YouTube videos have celebrated happy reunions of military moms and dads with their children.

Other times, veterans return home to find unemployment, broken families and a slide into substance abuse.

Charlie Mike, A True Story of War and Finding the Way Home is none of those.

Joe Klein's book instead tells what happens after the battles and homecomings are over and the former warriors must readjust to life on the homefront.

The after-the-dust-settles true tale is well-paced and well-told by Klein, a journalist and author whose best-known work is Primary Colors, the book about Clintonesque presidential politics originally published anonymously but later attributed to him.

What sets Charlie Mike apart from other stories about veterans facing challenges settling into life after combat is Klein's focus on the desire of the main figures in the story, ex-Navy Seal Eric Greitens and former Marine Sgt. Jake Wood, to serve their county after returning home.

In that sense, the scope of the book expands to a story about service and sacrifice inside and outside the combat arena.

Charlie Mike -- which in military jargon means continue the mission -- is not an easy read. It is punctuated by injuries, death and suffering, and Klein's writing echoes the start, stop, start again nature of war and recovery.

But there is a gung-ho American spirit throughout the book, characterized by the catchphrase "Let's roll," a generation's call to arms made famous on Sept. 11, 2001, when the passengers on Flight 93 decided to battle the Al Qaeda terrorists who had seized the plane. They crashed in central Pennsylvania, the first victory in the war against Al Qaeda.

Greitens and Wood return home as heroes but don't want the mission to end. They are instrumental in the growth of a group called the Mission Continues, which helped veterans continue to serve through community work and pitch in to help out in natural disasters -- Haiti after a devastating earthquake and New York City in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Klein makes the case for how veterans can use their experience, discipline and dedication to help save lives.

A somber yet uplifting afterword sums up Charlie Mike. It was written by Clay Hunt, a veteran and member of the Mission Continues, who committed suicide, an unfortunate path followed by many returned soldiers.

"Continue to serve, even though we have taken off our uniforms. No matter how great or small your service is, it is desired and needed by the world we live in today... It doesn't matter what it is; it only matters that you are continuing to put others before yourself, just like you did when you were in the military."

@ohioaj ___

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This article was written by Alan Johnson from The Columbus Dispatch and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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