Mark Fleming’s book is about his experiences in the Army in Vietnam. It displays the waste and costs of war that he saw in Vietnam. It describes his own learned aggressiveness, fears and violent desires that discomforted him and inspired him to work with Vets for Peace. He also re-visits post-war Vietnam and tries to assist with needs of veterans of that and recent wars. He demonstrates a responsibility on being a part of that even though a critic of the war.
This war involvement still leaves him uneasy. His book shows the subtle but very real cost of war on even one of the lucky ones, like Mark. One serious effect of war is suicide of returning vets. The number of suicides is three times the number of our soldiers killed in the Vietnam War.
He makes clear that there are many casualties of war. Reluctant Soldier – Uneasy Veteran is an important book for parents who might be thinking about encouraging their children to join the military or for young people considering joining the service.
It is a good read: a 112 page narrative of Mark’s time in the Army and as an infantry soldier and clerk in Vietnam. It also covers his efforts to heal soldiers and the country since that war. This is followed by blog posts, poems and short stories Mark has written about his experiences there.
Aeschulus is credited with the original quote: “In war, truth is the first casualty.” We have certainly seen that to be the case in Vietnam and our wars in the last 50 years.
As is the case with any superpower, there are serious moral questions about what the military arm of that power is doing. What logic and mechanisms does the country incorporate to get its citizenry to participate and support even very unjust domination efforts. That is why Mark’s book is such an important read, as our nation may be headed into more military conflicts in Venezuela and Iraq or Korea—as well as unending war in the Middle East.
Mark Fleming’s book, Reluctant Soldier, Uneasy Veteran, A Year in Vietnam and Beyond is available for $17.95 at Orca Books and Browsers Bookshop in Olympia, or from Mark Fleming at email@example.com.