Veterans tell their stories in "Portraits of Service" book

Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:32pm EST
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By Meghana Keshavan

(Reuters) - Despite their public displays of support on Veterans Day, most Americans cannot truly appreciate the sacrifices made by the millions of people who have served in the military during war, a former U.S. Marine Corps veteran says.

To help educate the public, John Ciecko Jr. and about 70 other veterans from the United States and Europe told their stories in a new book, "Portraits of Service: Looking into the Faces of Veterans," which was released on Sunday.

The short stories reflect the experiences of veterans, and a few still in the service, from World War Two to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Unless someone has experienced war, Ciecko says, it is difficult to comprehend the horror, as well as the camaraderie, and the after-effects of war like post traumatic stress.

"It's hard when you start thinking that most people (in the United States) just think it's just a holiday," said Ciecko, a retired 69-year-old who lives in Warren, Michigan. "They don't really give a damn about veterans."

The book's co-authors, Robert H. Miller and Andrew Wakeford, interviewed and photographed more than 400 veterans from the United States and Europe. More stories from those interviews will be in a second volume planned for next year.

"Every one of these vets has given time in their lives away, and received huge amounts of trauma," said Miller. "We want people to really understand that vets do sacrifice a ton for us to remain free."

Ciecko and active U.S. Army officer Jas Booth use their stories to inform people and to call for better benefits for U.S. veterans.   Continued...

The book "Portraits of Service: Looking into the Faces of Veterans" is shown in this undated handout photo courtesy of Andrew Wakeford/Patton Publishing and supplied to Reuters November 9, 2012. Co-authored by Robert Miller and Andrew Wakeford it combines 70 stories of U.S. veterans from World War II to the Iraq War and the current conflict in Afghanistan. "Portraits of Service: Looking into the Faces of Veterans". REUTERS/Andrew Wakeford/Patton Publishing/Handout