Book Review: The Invisible Front

The Invisible Front
Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War
By Yochi Dreazen

The unforgettable story of a military family that lost two sons - one to suicide and one in combat - and channeled their grief into fighting the armed forces suicide epidemic.  

Major General Mark Graham was a decorated two star officer whose integrity and patriotism inspired his sons, Jeff and Kevin to pursue military careers of their own. His wife, Carol, was a teacher who held the family together while Mark's career took them to bases around the world. When Kevin and Jeff die within nine months of each other - Kevin commits suicide and Jeff is killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq - Mark and Carol are astonished by the drastically different responses their sons' death receive from the US Army. While Jeff is lauded as a hero, Kevin's death is met with silence, evidence of the terrible stigma that surrounds suicide and mental illness in the military. Convinced that their sons died fighting different  battles, Mike and Carol commit themselves to transforming the institution that is the cornerstone of their lives. 

The Invisible Front is the story of how one family tries to set aside their grief and find purpose in almost unimaginable loss. The Grahams work to change how the army treats those with PTSD and to erase the stigma that prevents suicidal troops from getting the help they need before making the darkest of choices. Their fight offers a window into the military's institutional shortcomings and its resistance to change - failures that have allowed more than 2,000 soldiers to take their own lives since  2001. Yochi Dreazen an award winning journalist who has covered the military since 2003, has been granted remarkable access to the Graham Family and tells their story in the full context of two of America's longest wars. Breazen places Mark and Carol's personal journey, which begins when they fall in love in college and continues through the end of Mark's thirty-four-year career in the army,  against the backdrop of the rise in military suicides, which shows no signs of slowing. With great sympathy and profound insight, The Invisible Front describes America's flawed treatment of the troops who return from war far different from when they left and uses the Graham family's work as a new way of understanding the human cost of war and its lingering effects off the battlefield. 

Yochi Dreazen the managing editor of Goreign Policy, is one of the most respected military journalists in the country. He covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the Wall Street Journal and has reported from more than thirty countries. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic the Washington Post, and other publications. The Invisible Front is his first book and was a finalist for the 2014 J. Anthony Lukas Work in Progress Award. He lives in Washington D.C. 

Let me start by saying that I have a huge respect for anyone who goes into the armed forces. The Invisible Front does a great job of bringing to life something that a lot of people, especially the military doesn't like to talk about, mental illness. Not talking about the issue is part of the problem, and I think this book is a step in the right direction. If you like Kidnapped by the Taliban or Out of the Depths this is a book you should read. 

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