(Shooting Ghosts) [PDF] á Thomas J. Brennan
Sites became entangled Both authors take turns untangling those stories Neither "one pulls any punches when it comes to the US and its prosecution of recent Middle Eastern wars O Reilly speaks "pulls any punches when it comes to the US and its prosecution of recent Middle Eastern wars O Reilly speaks the monumental failure of the US government to provide adeuate care for those who have fought and served overseas It s interesting to read O Reilly s take on America The one time British Columbia resident writes Canadians tend to view the United States as the world s biggest super bully O Reilly points out what he describes as the USA s overt patriotism permissive gun laws and hawkish politicians He suggests Canada s southern neighbor sometimes seems like a hypermilitarized nation on steroids As for America s role in stopping the Taliban in Afghanistan O Reilly writes Brennan believes the war was mostly a senseless waste of resources with life and limb being sacrificed for a resentful population that only wants them gone If O Reilly and Brennan are correct Shooting Ghosts suggests that American troops are not necessarily fighting for the red white and blue We had an American flag at our post in Afghanistan Brennan writes but it wasn t why we fought We had pictures of our families but they weren t our reason either I fought to bring his suad all home alive Everything else was secondary For those who care about the thousands of war veterans who return to civilian life with TBI traumatic brain injuries this is an eye opening read Brennan s new career as a journalist and his hard work on military mental health issues is to be applauded Sadly engrossing telling of two people who met in Afghanistan One was a soldier the other a photographer Told in alternating voices the story covers their initial meeting and the development of their relationship the doubts their strengths their mistakes their other relationships and mostly their attempts to return to a normal life after experiencing the tragedies of war and suffering PTSD This book was recommended to me by one of TJ s teachersI m glad she did I met O Reilly and Brennan at a writer s retreat in 2016 and liked both of them immensely Their friendship is inspiring and their book shows why In alternating chapters they tell how they were drawn to war how they reveled in the rush of risking life and limb how they endured the horrors of war and how they succumbed to its traumas This is a book about how two men came to realize their friendship could save them from the abyss and give their lives meaning again They are candid about their own failings about the ups and downs of recovery and the healing power of helping others I reviewed Shooting Ghosts for AlterNet and recommend it for anyone who wants to now the American way of war See This story is important That s the best thing I can say about it It s a story that needs to be told and needs to be heard The writing is solid throughout but importantly the story takes you on a journey from horrifying places I ll never be able to imagine to what happens in the aftermath of being in those places It explores mental health issues like depression anxiety and PTSD It examines the level of disservice the military does for its heroes once they return It s important for people to now about these issuesTJ s story is heartbreaking and if you ve ever nown anyone who s been in the military relatable to some degree His matter of fact writing style often makes the story he s telling even harder to read but it s important to read it It s important to Lest Darkness Fall and Related Stories know what folks are going through especially if you re like me and have virtually no experience with war or the people connected to itI first heard TJ and Finnbar s story on Fr This book is not really what I expected I don tnow why but I thought most of the book would be about combat but that s really covered in the first third and the rest is about recovery It s an important book but it meanders a bit in the telling I really enjoyed this book about war from both sides that of a combat photographer and of a US Marine Photojournalist Finbarr O Reilly and Sgt TJ Brennan first met while both stationed at an outpost in southern Afghanistan s Helmand province The similarities shared PTSD depression frustration with the system in getting help and the maddening mistreatment of employees by both the military and journalism institutions when returning home from conflict forged from the things they experienced and witnessed while doing their jobs makes their bond even stronger It s incredibly well written and movingI heard a terrific interview with both men on NPR s Fresh Air that compelled me to read thi. Long after combatants and civilians have returned home and to understand the many faces trauma takes Shooting Ghosts looks at the horrors of war directly but then turns to a journey that draws on our growing understanding of what recovery takes Their story told in alternating first person narratives is about the things they saw and did the ways they have been affected and how they have navigated the psychological aftershocks of war and wrestled with reforming their own identities and moral centers While war never really ends for those who ve lived through it this book charts the ways two survivors have found to calm the ghosts and reclaim a measure of peac.
Thomas Brennan and Finbarr O Reilly "Offer A Compelling And Illuminating "a compelling and illuminating person account of an important conseuence of modern combat which is
STILL NOT FULLY UNDERSTOOD OR INnot fully understood or in cases even recognized Brennan a decorated US Marine and O Reilly an award winning Canadian photojournalist give an interlaced autobiographical account of their wildly disparate but ultimately intertwined roles in the wars of the 21st century Their paths cross beginning in October 2010 when Finbarr is embedded with a Marine combat unit under Brennan s command This uickly
Leads To The Sharedto the shared which anchors the book a brief November 2010 firefight in Kunjak Afghanistan where Brennan suffers a career ending traumatic brain injury due to the close range explosion of a rocket propelled grenade O Reilly s photographs of the aftermath provide Brennan with a visual record of an event which due to the severity of the blast he has no memoryAt the highest level this book offers a dissection of the physical intellectual and emotional trauma which can result from injuries or experiences that have left no obvious outwardly visible physical signs In the case of Brennan although his physical appearance is unchanged brain scans reveal damage to a significant golf ball sized area of his brain O Reilly although physically unharmed in any respect by the Kunjak firefight is apparently already suffering from the mental impact of a career spent covering some of the world s most disheartening stories often at significant personal risk Although committed to the idea that it is his responsibility to provide through his lens an accurate visual record of important stories which would otherwise be inaccessible to virtually all of the world s population O Reilly feels that he is becoming numb to the trauma he witnesses and he fears that the world is tooThe book draws on the dichotomy between the way the military and private industry handle mental health issues In the case of Brennan his TBI and his ultimate decision to reuest treatment for its effects leads very uickly to the end of his Marine career O Reilly s employer at the time the global news organization Reuters offers Finbarr both better uality of care and a far employee friendly pathAs this is at its core and indeed stated on its cover a story about a return from war the book has a much sharper focus on Brennan than O Reilly However O Reilly s presence in the narrative proves an extremely useful foil His broader experience in global conflict provides necessary context and of course his photographs and memory of the central firefight are crucial to the story That being said the compelling story within the story is clearly Brennan s fall and redemption Following the Marine Corps decision to medically retire Brennan he finds himself facing the lingering mental and physical effects of his TBI combined with a profound loss of purpose He contemplates and ultimately attempts suicide changing his mind only after the pills he intended to have end his life have been already swallowed With the help of his family and O Reilly he refocuses his efforts on his recovery obtains mental health care at a higher level and develops a new career as an award winning journalist he is a freuent contributor to The New York Times is the founder and leader of non profit investigative journalism website The War Horse and co author of this bookMy takeaway from reading this book in addition to a better understanding of the specific stories that O Reilly and Brennan have to tell is an awareness of the residual damage from three decades of desert wars Brennan s Marine record clearly identifies him as one of the smartest and most organized individuals at his level in the Corps Even drawing on those ualities and with the solid support of his family friends and non military professional associates it has been a monumental struggle for him to recover from the damage done to him by multiple concussions suffered in Ira and Afghanistan Most of the work he did to facilitate his recovery was done outside the Veterans Administration process Clearly our veterans deserve a better system Detailed account of what war looks like and how it affects those who engage in them or have to cover them for international press agenciesThis book tells in graphic detail the horrors of war Reading it will help folks understand why war is so horrible and places scars on those who fight them which last forever It is a must read for all who care about Veterans to help them better understand the invisible scars that Veterans carry for the rest of their li. A uniue joint memoir by a US Marine and a conflict photographer whose unlikely friendship helped both heal their war wounded bodies and souls War tears people apart but it can also bring them together Through the unpredictability of war and its aftermath a decorated Marine sergeant and a world trotting war photographer became friends their bond forged as they patrolled together through the dusty alleyways of Helmand province and camped side by side in the desert It deepened after Sergeant T J Brennan was injured during a Taliban ambush and both returned home Brennan began to suffer from the effects of his injury and from the fallout of his tours in Ira and. ,
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VesWelcome Home Finbarr and TJ thank you for your service "Shooting Ghosts is a fresh and innovative look at a subject that has frustrated and compelled storytellers for years war "Ghosts is a fresh and innovative look at a subject that has frustrated and compelled storytellers for years war it unfolds on a personal level The story follows Thomas Brennan a Marine who is physically traumatized by war and changed by what he sees and does in Afghanistan and Finbarr O Reilly a gifted photojournalist who follows and photographs Thomas during his journey in war and back home It s difficult to say which Part Of The Book Is Compelling The Written Stories Or of the book is compelling the written stories or photographs Despite the integration of both together each tell different stories and are written from different perspectives For me reading as I do so many war stories there s something powerful about having images to evaluate into which to grow roots while the rest of the story unfolds The photographs are memorable arresting even they do not leave you because you can t avoid or idealize them the way one might a sentence that one s used to envision a man s face whom you ve never met I read this book earlier in the year while attending a war photography conference that focused on immediate and long term effects of photographing in conflict zones In attendance were many of the photographers mentioned in the book Shooting Ghosts brings home a version of what many of the photographers described the power and immediacy of reportage through imagery and the long term psychological repercussions that go with that workA uniue exceptional book that I d describe as a joint memoir Canadian photojournalist Finbarr O Reilly is embedded with US Marines in Afghanistan Marine Sgt TJ Brennan is landed with a Canadian photojournalist that he babysits while his team patrols Helmand Province Brennan receives a head injury during a patrol minimizes it s significance when receiving treatment and experiences PTSD when he is ultimately discharged O Reilly after years of photographing conflict zones is let to from Reuters and years of the psychological effects of photographing trauma close finally catch up with him Shooting Ghosts contains two separately written memoirs joined together by each other s participation in recovery O Reilly and Brennan come from different backgrounds and had different roles but both share the similarity of experiencing trauma through working in conflict zones and the debilitating effects of limited professional psychological assistance Recommended People rarely consider it but war correspondents experience similar rates of post traumatic stress as combat veterans That statement by co author Finbarr O Reilly is the ey to understanding this entire two man war journal Born in South Wales raised in Dublin Ireland and later Vancouver British Columbia as a foreigner combat photographer O Reilly provides his readers here a brutally candid view of America s recent armed conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan When it comes to war inflicted PTSD O Reilly suggests the causes can be different but guilt plays a prominent role for both those who cover war as journalists and those who fight them For TJ US Marine Thomas J Brennan it s the things he s done or didn t do that haunt him O Reilly writes My own conscience is nagged by the fact that I am paid to photograph people at their most vulnerable while I m able to do little to help Although I don t recall O Reilly or his co author Brennan stating it it s apparent that it was Brennan s haunting memories and O Reilly s nagging conscience that explains this book s title This two man memoir chronicles their individual and cooperative efforts at taking a shot at redemption To confront Brennan s altered reality shooting ghosts that is the single focus here Collaborating with Brennan on this book O Reilly writes restored something within me at a time when I was confronting my own struggles ghosts in the wake of war The BritishCanadian cameraman believes It took getting to now each other for us to understand what trauma means what it does to those who live with it and how to cope O Reilly says We are still learning Brennan s writing partner sums it all up in the prologue This book is about one low ranking individual who carried out his nation s order to fight and is forced to live with the conseuences of his government s actions What makes this retrospective uniue among all the post war analysis of American armed conflicts is here we have a US citizen with a US soldier s point of view meeting a British Canadian with a decidedly anti American point of view This personal war diary documents how the war stories lived and told by two polar oppo. Afghanistan But war correspondents experience similar rates of posttraumatic stress as combat veterans The causes can be different but guilt plays a prominent role in both For Brennan it s the things he s done or didn t do that haunt him Finbarr O Reilly s conscience is nagged by the task of photographing people at their most vulnerable while being able to do little to help and his survival guilt as colleagues die on the job Their friendship offered them both a shot at redemption As we enter the fifteenth year of continuous war it is increasingly urgent not just to document the experiences of the battlefield but also to probe the reverberations that last. .