Packing Inferno - Discussion

Cover of  Packing Inferno by Tyler Boudreau (ePluribus Media)

Tyler Boudreau, former Marine, survivor of Iraq, writes a passionate chronicle of conscience. As cho reports

Though the structure that holds this portrait together is Proustian, the pace is anything but a meander, and neither is the Boudreau’s style ponderous. Instead, Packing Inferno is like a well orchestrated commando raid. Reading it, you are pulled along, never quite sure what the next paragraph will bring, but by the end, you’ve seen the image in the mirror and are haunted by its presence.

Read the review, and post any questions or comments you might have for Boudreau here.

Central Massachussetts area book reading schedule

  • 7 October: Broadside Book Shop (Northampton)
  • 19 November: Odyssey Books (South Hadley)
  • 11 December: Food For Thought Books (Amherst)
No votes yet


PTSD as an injury, and not a disorder:


Further, Boudreau argues forcefully that the psychological injury born in trauma is not a “disorder,” but rather an injury. To call it a “disorder” reduces it to some sort of psychological weakness, stigmatizing the veteran who received the life-threatening wound. Life-threatening is no hyperbole; as Boudreau points out, this country faces an epidemic of veteran suicides. Others have demonstrated that the veterans’ violent actions – murder, rape, and hostile outbreaks have a tremendous impact on our communities, our police, our churches, families and homes.2

If anyone is in a clear position to make such a statement, it is someone who has been able to garner more than one perspective on the impact that this debacle is having on our men and women in uniform.

I'm looking forward to reading the book, and hopefully catching up to the author at a reading or book signing in MA.

. . a fight to liberate a people for example, but they cannot when the war is not just . .

There is no such thing as a "just war", although the debate on that subject consumes volumes.

Question: what was the lowest level of command that had/has interpreters available? What's standard amount of cultural training before deployment?

rba -- and one I think Boudreau, Ilona Meagher, JimStaro and Dr. Shay make repeatedly. Unfortunately for recovering from combat stress, it seems that the belief that the war was just is one of those emotional states that seems to protect the troops from suffering PTSD.

I am really looking forward to reading this as I am currently working with a group trying to mobilize a consortium of local government services, voluntary organizations, VA, faith based organizations, employers etc to help successfully reintegrate our returning joint forces and to increase services to military kids and spouses. Oh yeah, and elevating the whole issue publically so that it rises above the noise of political gaffes and pregnant teens and daily humdrum.

I agree with you and GH that "disorder" is a misnomer for it locates the source of distress within the individual rather than in the larger social context--another Blaming The Veteran. That "disorder" was designed in the very hardwiring of the human body to keep one alive. It is not a disorder when the body does the very thing it was designed to do in response to life threatening stress. Stayin' Alive. I am beginning to see the "disorder" as a sociocultural phenomenon in that we've all been punked. The public is told to "go shopping" when soldiers are told to deploy to war. The disconnect between their reality and ours stateside could not be more schizophrenic.

Consequently, the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality of the populace amplifies the alienation of the soldier's reality. The media, the faith community, the government, business and industry all conspire to keep the solder and the wars in the deep background. Everyone of them failing to do their duty. I deeply disagree with the mantra that the military is fighting over there so we can live free here for it does a disservice to the joint forces. We ALL need to be involved in one way or another. It is harder to turn a blind eye when you are expected by an entire nation to do something to help our joint forces. The mantra as is allows the emotional compartmentalization that leads to the current public health crisis: our joint forces are returning home CHANGED and it seems that nobody gives a rats arse.

Our joint forces are returning to their jobs as law enforcement officers, medics, nuclear plant workers, government workers etc. They shed their military uniforms and wear the uniform of their previous lives but they are CHANGED--and few are paying attention. Their families are in pain, special the needs of their kids ignored--but life goes on. I am shocked at the attitudes of health care professionals who refuse to take TRICARE ,the military insurance plan, because it just pays too little. They cannot see that it is their DUTY to take these clients and accept the pay. Granted ,we should also advocate for TRICARE to raise its reimbursement rates but that is no excuse not providing care as their patriotic duty. I was shocked to learn that there are hospitals, who receive public funding, who refuse to take Tricare Prime. What kind of country is this?

"Yet, issues of the morality and ethics of the Iraq invasion are the very questions that mental health professionals tend to duck. [209]" Mental health professionals "tend to duck" the morality and ethics issue unless the client brings it up because every bit of our training is to be client-focused and to not impose our morality and belief systems on the client. It would be considered unethical to impose this upon a suffering soldier. Now, if it seems to be an issue that troubles the client, then it most certainly IS brought up, as dissonance in one's belief system is certainly salient.

I think that the trouble with mental health professionals is what ails much of the country (and ,perhaps, world) in that we have cognitive dissonance about loving our country but being very confused and doubtful about the war--much like the conflicted soldier. And so we pull a Scarlett O'Hara act: "I'll think about that tomorrow."

My question for you is what are your thoughts on what the most salient issues are for returning military in trying to reintegrate? What are the social barriers--the external issues that work against reintegration? What are the most imposing barriers coming from the community? From family? Or do I just need to read the book?!

when I read about these things. I wish I could make it all right.


I feel the same way ...

ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

Just posted a link to your great review, Cho.

My piece includes a nice collection of grafs from pieces on Boudreau's Iraq service and his work and writings since that time over at my blog, but also cross-posted at dKos, if anyone wants to recommend it:

On PTSD Combat : Moving a Nation to Care

On PTSD Combat : Moving a Nation to Care :

  • Log in to post comments
  • posted a blurb in Diary Rescue's comments:


    Thanks Ilona for all you do. You are truly an inspiration.

    ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
    If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

    Thank you! I was so wiped out last night, didn't even see this until today. Wish I could have done more to promote all the great work you and the others, the series with D.E. Ford, and just everything you guys do.

    Greyhawk I think is hoping to get to one of Boudreau's readings. I'd like to try too and get some video.