At Kathy Allen’s Pre-symposium Workshop It Takes a Special Person to Be a Healer, I sat next to Nanette Sagastume, from Chico, California. I know Nanette from many years of various Healing Touch events and have always enjoyed connecting with her.
I also knew that Nanette had just published a book that I had been meaning to order. She had one copy left and I started reading it on the plane on the way home.
I am now in complete awe of Nanette Sagastume.
My jaw dropped at least once every chapter. We Also Serve: A Family Goes To War is an intimate account of how the Iraqi war affected Nanette’s marriage, family, friends and community. Besides being deeply moving, this book clearly describes how Post Traumatic Stress affects the daily lives of soldiers during and after the war and the families who live with them.
Nanette’s son Daniel graduated from Marine Corps boot camp four days before the World Trade Center Towers were hit. Daniel ended up serving in the same battalion, company and platoon that his father, Mario Sagastume, did in the Vietnam war. This book describes the effect of both wars; the similarities and the differences.
Unlike in the Vietnam war, technology such as e-mails and live video news feeds made it possible for Nanette and her family to become connected in real-time to Daniel while he was in Fallujah. Nanette talks about this in the video clip at the end of this post. In the book, Nanette writes about the phone call from Daniel right after a suicide bomber attacked his platoon. After reading this passage I really got it that the soldier’s family really does “go to war”.
The emotional complexity of this book is overwhelming, yet Nanette writes in such a straightforward and brutally honest way – like when she describes her “petty emotions” after Daniel returns home. The amount of CLARITY it must have taken to write this book is staggering, and as I said before, I really am in awe of Nanette.
Nanette is clear even about what she has not personally resolved:
“With the events of 9/11, the next four years challenged my views about the world, patriotism, non-violence, the morality of war and the will of God. Our relationships with many family and friends were fractured over the politics of war. I have yet to resolve questions of the morality of war in general – this war in particular – however, further internal debate was a luxury my heart could not afford while my son was in harm’s way. If my son’s morale was key to his well-being, I could not risk anything that might damage it.”
“…Knowing how polarizing different perspectives on the war’s merits can be, I do not wish my story to be construed as for or against the war. Rather, I believe the military family’s story’s is too important to risk it being dismissed for reasons of politics. With one percent of American’s volunteering to serve, there is a gap in awareness – even a “disconnect” – about the military family’s experience. Instead, I ask the reader to accompany me, as I relate how our family served, and continues to serve, our county.”
Nanette’s husband, Mario Sagastume actively supported Nanette in writing this book, even though many parts of the book about him are uncomplimentary. Personally, I found the description of Mario’s PTSD from the Vietnam war and the effect it has on his marriage and family very valuable as a Healing Touch Practitioner. It gave me a much deeper insight into what these war veterans may be living with on a daily basis. Forty years after his time in Vietnam, Mario filed a claim with the Veterans Administration for PTSD.
Nanette’s and Mario’s daughter Clarissa wrote this note to the Veteran’s Administration when Mario finally filed:
“…I did not know until college that all dads did not have unbridled tempers and sudden outbursts of anger…. The sheer volume of anger was enough to make a room silent with fear. I honestly do not think there was a day in my childhood when my father did not lose his temper with us. Some symptoms I knew were a result of Vietnam. I remember (being in) our kitchen and accidentally slamming a cupboard door… Our father ducked to the ground. I had seen this reaction to loud noises before, but this time I caused it. Watching him duck to the ground was very difficult because he is so tough; yet, at that moment, I saw fear in his eyes. I still feel guilty for that moment… There is no doubt in my mind that war has made my Dad a different person. He has paid the price that others will never know; he will always walk through life with a limp in his heart….”
Healing Touch has proved to be very beneficial for returning War Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress symptoms. The Healing Touch Community is very active in creating volunteer events so Veterans can try Healing Touch. Many of my Healing Touch friends are also very committed to volunteering at the Veterans Clinics on a regular basis. The Stand Downs I have participated in as a healer have been very well organized and greatly appreciated by the Veterans. After reading this book, I want to do more.
I highly recommend this book for any healer working with Veterans and clients with Post Traumatic Stress. I also highly recommend this book to everyone living in America.
Thank you, Nanette.