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In Clint Van Winkle’s Iraq War memoir, Soft Spots, the former Marine sergeant populates his pages with the images of burned bodies and murdered children that led to his own post-traumatic stress disorder and the disillusionment of fellow soldiers initially enthusiastic about the U.S. invasion. Horrific violence, multiple tours of duty, and deficient medical care upon returning home have created a generation of walking wounded, Van Winkle declares, offering up scenes from the front lines and his own struggles with PTSD as evidence. At the start of his tour, Van Winkle just wants “to blow shit up” and kill the enemy. “Street fighters, thugs, drunks and rednecks, that’s what we were,” he writes. “Those are the kinds of people that enlist in the Marines. Smart people join the Air Force and, for the same pay, live the good life.” But after two years on the ground, Van Winkle starts questioning the mission and quietly scorning armchair warriors who argue that pulling troops out of Iraq would dishonor those who’ve died—as if continued butchery could somehow justify the war. He also holds special contempt for those who “slap support our troops magnets on the back of their SUVs” and then drive to the mall. Van Winkle’s detailed account of how combat shattered his mind is as disturbing as his war imagery. Phantoms of Marine buddies he hasn’t seen in months are as real as his wife or the useless psychiatrists he encounters at the VA hospital, where he is treated like a cipher—one more vet whose soul was mutilated in Iraq and whose doctors have no idea what to do about it. Van Winkle finally finds some relief when he stumbles upon Joseph Little, a therapist who is also a decorated Vietnam combat veteran. Little employs an experimental, controversial technique called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, which works for Van Winkle by compelling him to relive horrors he thought he had forgotten. This therapy provides a glimmer of hope for a veteran who once said, “no matter what I did, I would still be a killer, a wife abuser and a fucked-up veteran with PTSD.” Only one other ray of light pierces Van Winkle’s world of darkness: the brotherhood of soldiers. Responding to an antiwar protester’s fury about inadequate body armor, Van Winkle says “[W]e had each other. That’s all we needed.” Van Winkle doesn’t attempt to analyze the wrongs or rights of the Iraq war, engage in political arguments, or blame politicians. He saves his energies for willing his fellow Marines to come home from Iraq alive and in one piece. Rather miraculously, Van Winkle and his friends all return from war intact, save for their sanity and peace of mind.