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  • Readers Share Their Poetry: “My Response to Sgt. Lenihan’s Poem”


    U.S. Army photo by Spc. Daniel Herrera/Released.

    In May we posted a poem by a now deceased World War II veteran named Sgt. James Lenihan, in which he expressed his torment about killing a German solider during the war.

    Our post was picked up by CNN, and Lenihan’s son Rob was asked to share the poem with viewers and soon became a part of our national dialogue surrounding Memorial Day. Hearing from readers across the world, it was our mission to help people reflect, share and connect with others who have been affected by similar issues and provide resources to help them.

    Army veteran Nick Stamatis, almost 70, was one reader who wanted to help. He posted a poem in the “comments” section of our blog, in response to Lenihan’s poem. Stamatis later told us that when he heard Rob Lenihan read his father’s poem on the news:

    “I nearly broke down…. I had the feeling that I needed to give voice to the dying soldier and give Sgt. Lenihan some comfort…. I felt like this guy was carrying this wound with him his whole life…. I thought, I gotta give Sgt. Lenihan some help here.”

    We are reposting Lenihan’s poem, along with Stamatis’ poem as a response – we hope this sharing brings comfort to the Lenihan family and the many other warriors and families dealing with or experiencing war’s spiritual wounds. You are not alone.

    A Warrior’s Poem: “Murder — So Foul”

    By: Sgt. James Lenihan, World War II veteran (1921- 2007)

    I shot a man yesterday
    And much to my surprise,
    The strangest thing happened to me
    I began to cry.

    He was so young, so very young
    And Fear was in his eyes,
    He had left his home in Germany
    And came to Holland to die.

  • Get Help: You Owe it to Yourself and Your Loved Ones

    Maj. Gen. Libby photo
    Maj. Gen. John W. Libby, adjutant general for the Maine National Guard.

    I returned from Vietnam in September 1969 suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I understood my condition to be an anxiety disorder that occurred as a result of my combat experience, having seen and experienced injury and death. My symptoms then, and now, were primarily avoidance: emotional numbing, lack of interest in things that interested me before, and staying away from places, people and objects that reminded me of the event (it took me years to find the courage to visit the Vietnam Memorial).

    While more attention is being paid to the psychological health needs of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan than were paid to my generation, shame and denial remains a significant barrier to military personnel and their families getting the psychiatric treatment they need.

    I can testify first hand that seeking and receiving help is easy, important to the warrior and the family, and does not become an impediment to one’s successful career in the military.

    On 9/11, members of the guard and reserve didn’t realize it, but we ceased being a strategic reserve and became an operation reserve with all of the associated benefits and issues that come with multiple mobilizations and deployments.

  • TOW: Setting the Stage for Connection


    Theater of War (TOW), a New York-based production company, presents readings of the ancient general Sophocles’ plays Ajax and Philoctetes to military communities across the United States and Europe. These ancient plays depict the timeless psychological and physical wounds that warriors experience and offer an opportunity to help our nation’s guard members and reservists connect with each other and share their common experiences.

    It has been suggested that ancient Greek drama was a form of storytelling, communal therapy, and ritual reintegration for combat veterans provided by combat veterans. Just as the ancient Greek citizen-soldiers gathered together thousands of years ago to watch Sophocles’ plays, so too are today’s guard members and reservists who attend TOW performances.

    Military service was required of all citizens in ancient Athens. To be a citizen meant being a soldier, and vice versa. Because everyone served in the military, the health of the democracy depended upon the health of the force and the ability of citizen-soldiers to move fluidly and frequently between the worlds of military service and civic participation. Like today’s guard members and reservists, ancient Greek citizen-soldiers were expected to defend their homeland and to provide for their families. The boundary between being a citizen and a soldier was constantly blurred.

  • Readers Share Their Poetry


    Photo by Vince Alongi.

    Readers, this week we’ve posted the poems that a U.S. Marine drafted during a deployment to Iraq and that a Vietnam veteran shared with us. Scroll down below to read them.

    We have a special section on our website where we keep all of the reader poems that we’ve published so far, check it out here.

    As always, we welcome your poetry submissions. All poems should be e-mailed to, in the body of the e-mail, not as an attachment. For more information about our poetry initiative, click here.

    From Marine to Marine

    By: Nicholas Vandeventer

    A cold rain begins to pour down my back
    The blood of my foe's and brother's mingle and clean from my body.
    Running through the war torn street carrying my dead brother looking frantically which way to go I hear a cry, then I feel numb,
    The rain washes more blood from my body but now it's mine.
    Our enemies are coming to see us, my brother and I,
    We tried not to die, oh if only our mothers wouldn't cry.
    "For Honor, Courage, and Commitment!" I cried.
    If only we didn't have to die.
    We served for love of nation, corps, and pride.
    If only we didn't have to die.
    A shot!
    A shot from who?
    "United States Marine!"
    Joy! We're saved my brother and I,
    Our other brothers have come so we don't have to die.
    I wake, why? Back at base am I,
    Look I do for my brother who came so I wouldn't die.
    "Nurse, nurse I cried. Where is my brother who wouldn't let me die?"
    Not a word, she only cried.
    There that day I died.
    In the streets where my brother and I bled side by side.
    Why? Why did they have to die?
    Then in my mind all I hear is, Semper Fi.

  • Updated TBI Materials Now Available on the DCoE Website

    Fact Sheets

    Clinicians and health professionals, be sure to check out our recently revised Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) quick reference fact sheets:

    For any TBI related questions or to learn of additional resources, please contact the DCoE Outreach Center at

  • Readers Share Their Poetry

    David Bancroft, father of a Marine, wrote Give Thanks. "...My poem is about what all Americans should be thankful for from our beloved country's noble birth on July 4, 1776 to today."

    Check out the video of him reading his poem below.

    Readers, have a poem you want to share? Send it our way! All poems should be e-mailed to, in the body of the e-mail, not as an attachment. For more information about our poetry initiative, click here.

    *In case you missed them, check out last week's featured poems.