The title of David Finkel’s new book is painfully ironic. A chronicle of the damaged lives of returning Iraqi war veterans, “Thank You for Your Service” reveals on each page the crushing inadequacy of that traditional salutation for our men and women in uniform. It also illustrates the shortcomings of an overburdened support system, as well as the heroic efforts of individual veterans to reintegrate into society and get on with their lives. And it tells us about those who don’t make it.
In his previous book, “The Good Soldiers,” Finkel, a staff writer for The Washington Post, followed the men of the Army’s Second Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment during its 15-month deployment in Iraq in 2007-08. Now he writes about the “after-war” for some of those same soldiers, novelistically weaving together their overlapping personal stories as well as those of their caregivers, spouses, and commanding officers, looking at day-to-day lives as well as larger policy issues.