Post War Trauma — and Love

Terry Gross interviewed a quite incredible couple today on her Fresh Air show.

Kayla Williams and Brian McGough met in Iraq in 2003, when they were serving in the 101st Airborne Division. She was an Arabic linguist; he was a staff sergeant who had earned a bronze star. In October of that year, at a time when they were becoming close but not yet seeing each other, McGough was on a bus in a military convoy when an IED went off, blowing out the front door and window.

“Essentially a piece of shrapnel went through the back of my head, burrowed the skull from the back of my head past my ear, out through where my eye is and while doing this it also ripped some brain matter out,” McGough tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.

Williams has written a memoir about their life together, titled Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War,  surviving their sometimes reinforcing mutual PTSD, and now raising two kids.  It’s pretty amazing to hear them talk about what they have been through, and by talking perhaps giving others in similar situations the vocabulary and conceptual tools to advance further in their own struggles.

It’s worth the 40 minutes to hear them. Highly recommended.

Books -- Plenty of Time

For a related look at post-war trauma see Hidden Battles, a look at people affected by war in several times and countries — from the Nicaragua civil war to Palestine and Israel.  Victoria Mills has brought 5 veterans to the screen, some visiting the scenes of their old battles, and let them talk about what it has been like in the years after.  A very accessible way to widen the conversation about war injuries — they happen everywhere, not only to American soldiers in distant places.  Killing has consequences and not only for the dead.

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