When my EiC told me that he wanted me on Soldier Stories, I jumped at it and was excited to check it out and see what it was about. What I wasn’t expecting was the unabridged beauty that is this book. Ken Pisani, and member of the Writers Guild of America West in conjunction with Top Cow, Image, and the United States Veterans’ Artists Alliance, has produced a gem of military storytelling that reaches not only across all branches and situations but does a remarkable job at bringing light to dark issues that veterans face on active duty and when they rotate to the real world.
To review Solider Stories like I normally do takes away from what the book is saying. The four individual stories stand strong on their own at various lengths and hit on what every single veteran has gone through and seen. It’s hard to judge art or layout when you’re reading about a mother whose job is to operate armed drones. She comes home to the evening news to find out what those drones have really done. These stories deliver an emotional dagger when these veterans realize the horror and mental anguish are at every corner, and when they come from within, that’s a whole different set of emotional playing cards. Delivery of topics such as being betrayed from within the ranks, realizing the collateral damage the military produces, and seeing how the military treats its veterans once their service is up, can be touchy and divisive among veterans.
Veterans can be a finicky bunch. Our only connection with other veterans is our service. Once you separate, we tend to go left or right as far as political ideologies go. Some stay center of the aisle, and that’s fine. Where it gets tricky is when veteran issues start to arise. To some, the government has thrown us away. We are no longer needed. Others think simple reform is all that’s needed. Some stay with the active duty mindset and keep mental health as a weak taboo issue that is solely used so you don’t have to deploy. So how do you package up stories about the experiences of veterans and the issues that arise from said experiences? You give a pen to some veterans and let them tell their stories. This book isn’t a screenwriter looking for a ticket to Hollywood.
The connection between these stories and their authors can’t be sold as anything other than authentic. While the topics are a startling realization of the horrors of service and warfare, the heart that went into this book can’t be understated; hell, I’m not sure you can put it into words. Every veteran has a story to tell. And these are their stories. Their life. Regardless of where you stand politically, we can’t forget what veterans have gone through. I may not advertise my time in the Navy, but I don’t miss a time to spin some yarn. Whether the tears are from laughter or from pain, veterans’ stories can’t be forgotten. Their sacrifice can’t be forgotten. Their family’s sacrifice can’t be forgotten.
At times reading these stories brought tears to my eyes. I don’t know the vets who put their heart on paper for this book, but their emotion rings just as loud as any general quarters alarm. Veterans will always be connected by service. The reason for service will differ greatly for any soldier, sailor, or airman, but the connection stays the same.
We need more stories like this.