EXIT WOUNDS                                                      JOHN CANTWELL
Posted:  Feb. 3, 2014

Exit Wounds - One Australian's War On Terror by Major General John Cantwell  As a country boy from Queensland, John Cantwell signed up to the army as a private and rose to the rank of major general. He was on the front line in 1991 as Coalition forces fitted bulldozer blades to tanks and buried alive Iraqi troops in their trenches. He fought in Baghdad in 2006 and saw what a car bomb does to a marketplace crowded with women and children. In 2010 he commanded the Australian forces in Afghanistan when ten of his soldiers were killed. He returned to Australia in 2011 to be considered for the job of chief of the Australian Army. Instead, he ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

Exit Wounds is the compassionate and deeply human account of one man’s tour of the War on Terror, the moving story of life on a modern battlefield: from the nightmare of cheating death in a minefield, to the poignancy of calling home while under rocket fire in Baghdad, to the utter despair of looking into the face of a dead soldier before sending him home to his mother. He has hidden his post traumatic stress disorder for decades, fearing it will affect his career.

Australia has been at war for the past twenty years and yet there has been no stand-out account from these conflicts—Exit Wounds is it. Raw, candid and eye-opening, no one who reads this book will be unmoved, nor forget its imagery or words.

This is a true story of an Australian solider account of the war on terror. Actually he is an officer and in the first Desert Strom he is assigned to the American 1st Armored Division and is to be in contact with the British Armored Division so there won’t be any friendly fire accidents. That did not work out as planned for a different allied country fired on several British tanks during one of the battles. He continues to go into some of the tragedies of war that he saw and how some of them affected him when he returned to Australia. After he was home for about six months and his wife noticed he could not sleep they went to a doctor and he was given sleeping pills and told that therapy would be good for him. By this time we had invaded Iraq for the second time and he was sent back over there but now he was a General. This time when he went he was in some of the deadliest places. The Shia were executing the Sunni by the 100s and everyone felt that there was no way to stop it. He was also in charge with an American General at looking at videos of captured civilians and the one that got him the most was of four soldiers. When they found the area they were in they also found a video showing everything that was done. He said after that he could not sleep through the night any more. There were other causes as well. While he was there in one month alone there was over 250 killed and another 100 or more maimed. These attacks were being cared out by Abu- alMasri. When they finally did kill him he along with six other high ranking men were there for the autopsy for conformation that they had killed the right person. When he finally went home he and his wife started looking for counselors. It was during this time that he heard about PTSD from one of them. He was still in the military and he did not want to stay with that doctor because he felt it would hurt his career or his son who was now in the service. His PTSD would get worse after a 12 month tour or so in Afghanistan. Here in the book he talks about the brave Australian soldiers who gave their lives fighting against terror. He goes into as much detail as he is allowed to. A part of the war that I forget that it is not only Americans fighting. He continues to talk about his PTSD and the help that he is getting. There is also two chapters written by his wife giving her story and how she is helping him. An outstanding book! A brave man to write about this. I got this book from net galley.

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