Soldier's Heart
Soldier's Heart
An Inspirational Memoir and Inquiry of War
Perfect Bound Softcover
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The history of the government's treatment of returning combat veterans has been long absent from the public's awareness. Lately, a plethora of documentaries presenting the wounded veterans' plights are currently making their way into the American public's consciousness. After their initial treatments, the wounded service members from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan face an ongoing battle to receive appropriate care and financial assistance. The Department of Veteran Affairs has historically been drastically under funded, under staffed, and overworked. The costs and consequences of war are unpredictable. America is unprepared.

A book most relevant to the current situation of our government's treatment of the homecoming warrior is Soldier's Heart by Lee Burkins.  This book  is possibly the most honest inquiry of war and its consequent trauma ever written by a combat soldier. Burkins, a former Green Beret, writes with the emotional firepower of an automatic weapon. Novelistic in nature, Soldier's Heart weaves and braids the grime, blood, and guts of the experience of war with the world's past historical treatment of the warrior returned home. He humorously reveals the uncompromising assault he and a handful of pugnacious veterans made upon the bureaucracy's neglect of the combatants. Sit in a Veterans rap group, walk the jungles with the tribal warriors Burkins led in combat and follow the inner world of a warrior's struggle to comprehend the reasons behind humanity's penchant for war and the government's reluctance to acknowledge the trauma now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (

A story from Soldier's Heart was presented as a documentary on the History Channel 




Selected Excerpts from Soldier’s Heart:

...As is the nature of powerful people who declare war, they do so at a cost while doing their best to keep their expenses down. Giving the soldier status or recognition can be expensive. Only so many land grants can be made. Only so many hands can reach into the money pot. For the powers that be, cannon fodder must be abundant, made less expensive, and have the ability to make money for those who make enemies of others. Governments claim to be moral if it is in their favor to do so...

...My first direct experience with government was when I was nineteen years old. I was told to report within thirty days of notice for military service. If I did not report as ordered, federal officials would come to my home and arrest me and imprison me. If I did not agree to go and kill human beings on the other side of the world I would be ‘deemed’ a criminal. Essentially, the government coerced me to kill for them...

...A weapon has a life within, a character of its own. It solicits use. It exudes fear. It aspires to create death.

The use of weapons is lamentable but there is a time for every purpose. Even the sagacious will use a weapon when given no choice, but they never revel in its skill nor exult war.

When what you hold to be most holy is attended by pain, destruction and death the spiritual expenditure is devastating. But one’s own suffering is minimal compared to beholding the suffering of others. The sorrow of experiencing human beings at their worst and regret of not being able to help the victims is forever carried.

In war you sacrifice ideals for personal existence and the rage of killing. The experience will be permanent. The hazard is not risking one’s life, but one’s very humanity...

...I sit in Brook’s office on a comfortable couch and vibrate like I just left the battlefield. I look at him. He looks at me. "Whew!" is all he says.

Now that I’ve told my tale, I begin thinking back on the darkness. Those moments I thought for sure my life was over. I prayed. My prayers seemed answered but I realize now that there were moments, some really long moments when it appeared that my prayers to a God went unanswered and I reached out to a Devil for help.

The atmosphere in Brooks’ office seems filled with a charged haze. There is an expansive moment of great empty space then I wonder and ask,

"Is it possible Brooks? Have I sold my soul...?"


A Call To Arms

Fools bugled by the laughter of Hell,

A herald to death in the unforeseen.

Righteous hearts, troubled minds,

Souls adrift beyond Heaven’s reach.

Pain’s companion, wandering, warring youth,

led by patriotic lies.

Hallowed ground beneath each footstep taken

In search of the past path of being.

Carefree and young, peace of mind, rift of care,

Who would dare?

Who would dare?


This war comes packaged with a warning label: Caution: Studies have shown there is greater than a 20% chance of becoming mentally disturbed by participating in this conflict.

Lee Burkins served with the 5th Special Forces and the top secret organization MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command Vietnam - Special Operations Group) in Southeast Asia. While attending the University of Colorado, he worked for the National Bureau of Standards conducting research in the ‘Time and Frequency’ Division. He became involved in Veterans’ politics and for ten years worked as an advocate for disabled veterans. He has also had the good fortune of being a pilot, janitor, ditch digger, honey-dipper, carpenter, surveyor, teacher and exotic flower farmer. He spends his time writing and insulating himself from the madness of society by practicing the esoteric internal arts of Taoism.


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