Reaching Past the Wire: A Nurse at Abu Ghraib
Author: Deanna Germain
On a frigid afternoon in February 2003, Deanna Germain, a nurse practitioner and new grandmother living in Blaine, Minnesota, received the registered letter she had hoped would never arrive. In six days she was to report for active duty as war loomed in Iraq. The purpose of mobilization: “For Enduring Freedom.” With startling detail, Lt. Col. Germain offers a clear-eyed account of life as a nursing supervisor behind the fortified gates of Abu Ghraib. Her duty: To treat Iraqi prisoners, U.S. soldiers, and Marines in need of medical attention. Shortly after she arrived, the notorious prison made headlines around the world for abuses that had stopped months before. Despite unbearable heat, frequent mortar attacks, medical supply shortages, substandard facilities, the relentless stench of war, and sleepless nights quartered in a tiny prison cell, Germain served the medical needs of each of her patients with remarkable humanity. In this crucible of wartime stress, workplace turmoil, and cultural uncertainty, Germain found herself forging powerful connections with colleagues and translators. She learned from translators about normal Iraqi families struggling to survive impossible conditions. And after vowing to avoid personal relationships with prisoners, she became a comfort to many. Duty and compassion, camaraderie and hope all helped to pull her through. Lt. Col. Deanna Germain, USAR (Ret.), is a nurse practitioner at a pain clinic near Minneapolis. Connie Lounsbury is a freelance writer who also teaches writing classes.
I realized that the military can make a good soldier out of a mother," writes this Minnesota grandmother and lieutenant colonel in the army reserves, "but it can't take the good mother out of the soldier." In this hardship-weary but generally positive account of her 18 months of service as nurse and soldier at Abu Ghraib, the notorious site of prisoner abuse by American military personnel, Germain seeks to redress the stigma of that enormous scandal. Detailing the daily challenges, sacrifices and service of those at Abu Ghraib, she tells of her contact with Iraqi citizens, detainee patients and foreign workers. Arriving after-the-fact and to another part of the compound, her account contains no insights into the abuse scandal itself (indeed, her take on the misdeeds of a "few" echoes the official "bad-apple" line of military and government spokespersons). The nebulous hierarchy of command at Abu Ghraib, the ambivalence of hospital staff toward wounded prisoners and first-hand glimpses of the exploitative subcontracting of Third World labor by American corporations like KBR do not shake Germain's faith in the rightness of her mission or turn her prosaic narrative-interspersed with texts of e-mails home and journal entries-from the unexamined constant of "duty to country." (Sept. 1)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Narrative of Sojourner Truth
Author: Olive Gilbert
This inspiring memoir, first published in 1850, recounts the struggles of a distinguished African-American abolitionist and champion of women's rights. Sojourner Truth tells of her life in slavery, her self-liberation, and her travels across America in pursuit of racial and sexual equality. Essential reading for students of American history.