From Baghdad to America: Life after War for a Marine and His Rescued Dog
Here, for the first time, Kopelman holds nothing back as he responds to the question, “Why did you save a dog instead of a person?” The answer reveals much about his inner demons—and about the bigger picture of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He talks about what it’s like to return to the States and examines the shocking statistics to come out of Iraq: Depression, suicide, alcohol abuse, and broken relationships are at record highs for the men and women who serve there. Kopelman credits Lava with helping him to endure combat and the pain of war, as well as helping him deal with the surprising difficulties of returning to everyday life. Civilians have a hard time understanding what being a Marine means, and the adjustment to living among them is hard for these soldiers. This book attempts to shed light on that for all readers.
misconduct reflects poorly upon the rest.” We’re still waiting for answers and positive response to these matters, but one thing is sure: Jay and Lava, and others like them, have put a face on these issues and it will be all the more difficult for our military leadership to overlook such concerns in the future. In this book, Jay and Lava put a face on another important issue—one that concerns every returning veteran and one that should concern us all: the effects of stress, depression,
fields. Plenty of guys go back again and again because they can’t hack the monotony of regular life. I’ll admit it: We who’ve made the military a career can be—brace yourselves—rigid, anal, uncompromising, demanding, distant, emotionally detached, and overbearing. I know you’re shocked to hear this. Right? I mean, look at how I poured my heart out in the first book. I even admit to crying when I got news about Lava—twice! How can I possibly be talking about the same person? Allow me to get back
problematic, I think we can safely say he’s got PTSD. Like I said, his vet was convinced he needed medication, one that’s made for dogs with “high levels of separation anxiety.” When I asked if there would be problems for Lava on this medication, the vet replied, “Hey, a few million people can’t be wrong.” Let’s hope he’s right. If you’re still not convinced by a dog expert’s analysis, let’s look at what the Army has to say about PTSD: Anyone who has gone through combat or military exposure can
Robert L. Koffman. “Combat Duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mental Health Problems, and Barriers to Care.” The New England Journal of Medicine, 01 July 2004. Hoge, Charles W., Jennifer L. Auchterlonie and Charles S. Milliken. “Mental Health Problems, Use of Mental Health Services, and Attrition from Military Services after Returning from Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.” The Journal of the American Medical Association, 1 March 2006. JAMA/Archives. “Mental Health Needs of Soldiers Increase
black coat he looked as if he had been singed in a fire, which gave Sgt. Julius Hawkins the idea of calling him Lava. As a forward command element under the charge of Lt. Col. Ramos aka “Colonel Rambos,” our operation load was heavy, yet during the 38 nights that we spent in Fallujah we did have a few chances to play with the little guy and watch him grow, just as if he was one of ours back home. He reminded me so much of my dog Shasta that in a way it brought me thousands of miles back to the