A War Zone of the Soul
Dr. W. Lee Warren’s life as a neurosurgeon in a trauma center began to unravel long before he shipped off to serve the Air Force in Iraq in 2004. When he traded a comfortable if demanding practice in San Antonio, Texas, for a ride on a C-130 into the combat zone, he was already reeling from months of personal struggle.
At the 332nd Air Force Theater Hospital at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Warren realized his experience with trauma was just beginning. In his 120 days in a tent hospital, he was trained in a different specialty—surviving over a hundred mortar attacks and trying desperately to repair the damages of a war that raged around every detail of every day. No place was safe, and the constant barrage wore down every possible defense, physical or psychological.
One day, clad only in a T-shirt, gym shorts, and running shoes, Warren was caught in the open while round after round of mortars shook the earth and shattered the air with their explosions, stripping him of everything he had been trying so desperately to hold on to.
Warren’s story is an example of how a person can go from a place of total loss to one of strength, courage, and victory. Whether you are in the midst of your own crisis of faith, failed relationship, financial struggle, or illness, you will be inspired to remember that how you respond determines whether you survive—spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes physically.
It is the beginning of a long journey home.
The horrors of war are told in conversational, blunt fashion by neurosurgeon Warren, who relates memories of his year caring for patients in war-torn Iraq. Warren, who had mastered the art of hiding behind a surgical mask, decides to leave his medical practice, his ministry as a church worship leader, and his failing marriage and children to seek answers as a doctor in an Air Force hospital near the front. His troubles pale in comparison to the shattered lives, supply shortages, and suffering he encounters at war. In a well-written narrative, mixed with actual email reports he sent home, Warren transports the reader to the battle zone and shares his thoughts, raw emotions, opinions on America's involvement in Iraq, and lessons learned during his tour of duty. Most poignant are the heart-wrenching stories of injured children and the agonizing decisions he must make about which victims to save and which ones he can't. Warren's war experiences bring him closer to God, provide insight into his own character flaws, and don't leave him, even after he returns home to address the problems he left behind.