Book Review by: Dan Barnett, his column “Biblio File” from the Chico Enterprise-Record of February 5 2012.
When Daniel Sagastume graduated from Marine Corps boot camp, he was not yet nineteen. Then came the unthinkable. “Four days after my son’s graduation,” his mother writes, “when the Towers crumbled, so did my world.”
“We Also Serve: A Family Goes To War” ($17.95 in paperback from iUniverse; available in Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and Google e-book formats) is Nanette Sagastume’s riveting story. A retired nurse practitioner and founder of what is now called the Military Family Support Group, Sagastume lays bare the emotions she and her husband Mario experienced even as Mario, a Vietnam War veteran, is dealing with PTSD.
“Daniel began to seek ways to be reassigned to the same infantry unit his father had served with, the Second Battalion, First Marine Regiment of the First Marine Division (known familiarly as 2/1). More specifically, he wanted to get assigned to the same company, Fox Company, and eventually the same platoon.”
She writes: “With one percent of Americans volunteering to serve, there is a gap in awareness–even a ‘disconnect’–about the military family’s experience. … I did not enlist; my service is involuntary. That is not to say that Mario and I oppose Daniel’s decision; rather, we had no choice in the matter. Our role was to accept his life choice, adapt to it, and support him. When we military families offer our love and emotional support–waiting and worrying while our loved ones fulfill their duties–we also are in service to our country.”
Labor Day, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq, a suicide attack. Normally Daniel rode in the first truck of a convoy; that day he was assigned the second. It saved his life; seven of his comrades died. The experience changed Daniel forever.
“Often overlooked,” says Sagastume, a recent guest at Lyon Books in Chico, “is the effect on the family that has loved, suffered, and endured with him both during his combat tour as well as the aftermath of adjustment. Indeed, I feel that families are uniquely vulnerable–more than at any time in history. With instant communication and the availability of live satellite television transmission, families often are witnesses to some of the very same events their warrior has experienced. Families also serve in today’s virtual war.”
Leatherneck; June, 2014; Vol. XCVII, No. 6; p.59.
We Also Serve, by Nanette Sagastume, is an emotion-filled tale of the impacts of war on a Marine family. The father, a combat-hardened veteran, served with 2nd Battalion, First Marine Regiment in Vietnam in the late 1960s. Fast forward to 2004, and the son, in the same battalion—2nd Battalion, 1st Marines—is fighting in and around Fallujah, in some of the more violent battles in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The wife and mother describes, in gripping prose, the impacts of these two wars on her family and friends.
As a new Marine wife in 1972, Nanette Sagastume had no idea her husband’s actions were driven by combat experiences. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was not a recognized malady. Through her education as a nurse, she learned and came to understand how her husband had been shaped by the Marine Corps and war. Just as she and her family were coming to grips with the head of the family’s issues and actions, her son deployed to experience the horrors of war in Iraq.
Read the exceptionally well-written and-edited We Also Serve to learn more about the numerous resources available today for Marine family members as they come to understand and work with the effects of PTSD. The Military Family Support Group, the battalion’s email support group , and the outreach of the 2/1 Vietnam veterans group join a list of the many options that Sagastume enumerates as strong contributors in the positive adjustments of her husband, son and family.
Sagastume’s We Also Serve is 216 pages, published by iUniverse Inc., and available in hardcover for $25.16 softcover, $16.16; and may be downloaded to a Kindle for $9.99 through Amazon.com. The ISBM -10 is 1462030890.
“I highly recommend this book for all military personnel and their families. Nanette gives the reader a keen insight into what the family goes through before, during and after the deployment of their son. You are right there with her as the phone rings and it is her son calling from Iraq with news that he is OK and when she and Mario try to go on with their lives with Daniel always on their minds. The title of the book is perfect as the family does indeed serve. As a young man, Mario served in Viet Nam and finds himself serving again as he and Nanette send their son off to war. A real page turner.”
“Thank-you Nanette for reminding everyone that those of us left behind ,family and friends, are all affected by war, and our loved ones going to war. You wrote from your heart with such openess that we all feel blessed by your book. Thank-you.”
“When a young man or woman goes to war, their family grapples with its own challenges. Nanette Sagastume takes you with her on this journey, sharing raw feelings of fear, faith, hope and despair. The book is an unvarnished account of what families experience, both when their son or daughter is in harm’s way, and once they return.”