Skin in the Game – Book Review & Endorsement

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About a month ago I asked Peggy Logue the author of the book Skin in the Game– Supporting the Troops Without Supporting the War – Journey of a Mother and her Marine Son to send me the book so that I could do a review.

Suffice it to say that I just couldn’t put the book down, and I have memory problems that make reading any book a long-term task for me. I finished the book in record time. The book held my interest not only because I could relate to any parent having a child in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars who support their child but not the wars their trooper had no decision in.

After reading the book, I told Peggy that not only could I not put her book down, we at Veterans Today endorse Skin in the Game. Though what she writes presents an anti-war side this is an anti-war book that Supports the Troops in this case the Marines. Peggy and her son survived their contrasting views on the Iraq War by respecting their diverse views.

In fact, Peggy comes across as being very proud of ‘her Marine.’ Though she takes on the civilian politicians who sent ‘some other families’ love ones in harms way for a war based on lies and deceit, not once did I note disrespect for anyone in uniform with the exception of maybe the recruiter who recruited her son.

Her son, Mike, on the other hand is PROUD to be a Marine, contributes to his Mom’s book in a very meaningful way that respects the view of those who question, or even oppose, the war though he may not share those views. Not one word added from Mike’s view places the Marines in a negative light nor can be interpreted as anti-war. He simply just wants to move on with his life by now attending college and going from there. Like me, Mike may make the military a career. This photo of Mike with his arm around Peggy reflects that we can support our troops as we question and oppose the wars.

From the overview and most reviews of Peggy’s book.

“It’s an age-old axiom: if you don’t support the war, you don’t support the troops. And Peggy Logue couldn’t disagree more.

When Peggy’s nineteen-year-old son, U.S. Marine Michael Logue, is deployed to a volatile area of Iraq, Peggy suddenly faces an alarming challenge to her anti-war sensibilities. Should she remain silent or give voice to her feelings? Despite being called a “coward,” Peggy takes to the streets for her anti-war protests in a determined attempt to understand the reasons for her son’s duty to his country and the politics of war.

Peggy’s protests, her stress over Mike’s deployment, and her fierce pride in her son hurtle her along an emotional roller coaster for the entire year of Mike’s tour. Yet not once does she compromise her beliefs, but instead asks the tough questions and demands answers. What she discovers, however, is human nature’s predilection for violence. Only by becoming warriors for peace will war cease to exist.

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, GS-14, U.S. Civil Service Retired, Veterans Issues Editor, Veterans Today News Network

Anyone interested in getting a autographed copy of Skin in the Game for $20 plus shipping, please contact Peggy at [email protected].

Peggy Logue’s Skin In The Game: Journey of a Mother and her Marine Son tells the poignant story of one military family’s very personal experience with the Iraq war. But Peggy’s words and experiences as a mother sending her son off to a war in which she and her husband did not believe, reflect and give witness to the heart and the hurt of so many military families who opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq or at some point concluded that the war in Iraq was wrong. Peggy’s tears are our tears, her fears our fears. By speaking out and sharing her heart, Peggy has exposed so many details that made up – and make up – our raw, anguished journeys. But beyond echoing the experiences and the hearts of military families, Peggy’s heartbreaking yet uplifting narrative provides the vast majority of people in this country who have no skin in the game with a rare and stark reflection of the months, weeks, days, hours and moments of our trauma as the nation was sent off to war in Iraq. As military families we understand better than most that it wasn’t really the nation who was sent to war – it was our loved ones, and our hearts went with them.

At this writing, in fall of 2009, it has been more than seven years since my own stepson deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, first to Kosovo, on his way to Iraq. That was the fall of 2002, when the drumbeats for war in Iraq were getting deafening. While George W. Bush, his administration and the majority in Congress were crying “We’ve got to go to war!” we noticed that none of them were really going anywhere, nor were their loved ones. In November, 2002 my husband Charley Richardson, myself and a father whose son was about to deploy to Kuwait decided to form an organization of military families speaking out to try to prevent an invasion of Iraq. We called the organization Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), and hoped to organize and build the voice of military families opposing the invasion – families who had a great stake in the debate, a strong need to speak out, and a special voice that could make a difference. Peggy’s early chapters took me back to a time before that. In August, 2002, the weekend before our son was to ship out, Charley and I went to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to see if we would be allowed to be with him before he shipped out. As it turned out, we were able to spirit him away to spend twenty-four hours on Okracoke Island. How does a family say good-bye to a loved one being sent off to a war that shouldn’t be fought? As military families, so many of us did just that. “There is nothing we can do to stop this or change this. Is this our last good-bye?” Peggy’s narrative has captured moments like these in ways that touch nerves and hearts for those who experienced them, and made palpable the powerlessness, the pain and anguish for those who have not.

Unfortunately, the original goal of Military Families Speak Out – to prevent an invasion of Iraq – was not realized. MFSO grew from the original two families to about 200 military families at the time of “shock and awe” on March 19, 2003; to over 4,000 military and Gold Star families (families whose loved ones died as a result of the war) in 2009. Peggy’s narrative focuses on a time period in 2005 when more was being uncovered about the  lies that led us into this war, more people in this country were questioning the reasons and need for the war, but the fierce battles raged on. Her son’s unit, once called “Lucky Lima,” was well-known to many military families who were daily and sometimes hourly tracking the casualties of this war. Lima Company, 3rd Battalion of the 25th Marines, a unit of 160, was to lose 23 of their own in their seven-month deployment in 2005.

Throughout her narrative, Peggy gives voice to the crazy cadence of our lives as military families with loved ones deployed. She describes commonplace events that take on new meanings. When the phone rings, we jump: is it our loved one calling from Iraq, or someone with much more sinister news about explosions and life-threatening wounds?  That knock on the door – will we open it to see officers in dress blues with news we dread the most? One MFSO member left work every day and drove around or went to the mall until she knew her husband was home – she couldn’t bear the thought of being alone if such messengers were going to arrive. But those without skin in the game know little or none of this – of our strangely tattered lives

Peggy also illustrates the particular dilemmas of military families who honor and support our loved ones but condemn the war they were sent to fight. Peggy speaks of struggling with how a newspaper’s readers would view her as the result of her quote in an article that questioned the war in Iraq. “Will they then accuse me of not supporting my son? How painful. How dead wrong.”

Supporting the Troops Without Supporting the War

In fact, it has been voices like Peggy’s that have helped disconnect “support for the troops” from “support for the war,” and teach the American people – and our politicians – that the most supportive thing they can do for our troops, once deployed to an unjust and unjustifiable war, is to end that war, bring our troops home quickly and safely, make sure they get the care that they need and deserve when they return, and never again let them be recklessly sent off to another war.

During her son’s deployment, Peggy was introduced to and joined Military Families Speak Out, and became active locally in the “Bring Them Home Now” bus tour that carried military and Gold Star families, Iraq War Veterans and Veterans of other eras on a speaking tour from near Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas to Washington, D.C. in September of 2005. She housed the families and Veterans when the tour came through Ohio, participated in meetings in Congressional offices, and spoke at community forums where she was able to share, as she put it, “the terror that I live with.” Peggy commented about this experience, “I am finally doing something rather than sitting at home on the computer or watching and waiting for news from Iraq. It feels so good to be taking action.” Peggy echoes the sentiments of so many MFSO members, for whom the organization has been both a vehicle for taking action, and for finding kindred souls who walk in our shoes.

Periodically in the narrative, Peggy notes that the pain and anguish she feels about the war in Iraq is tied to her son and other troops being put in harm’s way, in “kill or be killed” situations; but is also tied to the understanding that others are being harmed – the Iraqi people who are caught daily in the war’s cross-fire. She exposes the often hidden but very real human toll, the burden of a war being carried out in all of our names, for which we all have responsibility.

The bittersweet ending of Peggy’s narrative reflects another cycle of events that this war has unfolded. Those of us who have been lucky enough to welcome loved ones home and hold them again in our arms, are familiar with well-meaning questions from friends and relatives such as, “Isn’t it wonderful to have your loved one home safe and sound?”

Unfortunately, many of us don’t know that our loved ones are or will be safe or sound – they have been exposed to physical and psychological traumas as well as agents such as depleted uranium that could put them at risk for decades to come. Peggy wrote, “I thought with Mike home my grief would end and all would be well. And all would be normal. But the truth is it takes years to get back to some sense of normalcy and wellness…..It is hard to pick up the pieces of war.”

Returned Veterans and their families are struggling every day trying to pick up these pieces. The casualties of the war in Iraq did not all come home in flag-draped coffins. Months or years after returning from combat, Veterans living with the psychological injuries of war have taken their own lives; the suicide rate among returned Veterans keeps climbing. Other types of violence have appeared in homes and relationships; the divorce rate has skyrocketed. All the tears of this war will never be wiped away.

Peggy leaves us with a challenge, and it is a timely challenge indeed. Her personal narrative gently but powerfully raises the weightiest of questions about war: “Those of us trying to heal from our experiences of this war may never completely heal until war in Iraq is over, and maybe not until all war is over.”

In fall of 2009, most people in the United States seem to believe that the war in Iraq is all but over. Yet troops are still being deployed there, and the toll of troop deaths this year has averaged two deaths per week in some months, to almost one death each day in other months. Iraq has become the hidden war, switching places with the once-forgotten war in Afghanistan which is now back on the front pages.

2009 [was] the deadliest year for U.S. troops in Afghanistan; in October the death rate averaged almost two troops per day. At this writing, the President is struggling to chart a course for what many deem a quagmire. Polls indicate that more and more Americans are questioning a course that continues the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan.”

Military Families with Skin in the Game need to SPEAK OUT!

“Once again, the voices of military families are coming to the fore, as families who have skin in the game are speaking out. They are helping to re-frame problems and call into question what has been conventional wisdom.

While political leaders [regardless of party] have maintained that “Funding these wars is funding our troops,” military and Gold Star families have countered, “Funding these wars is killing our troops – and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Peggy’s remarkable book will inform those who are, or should be, grappling with both the immediate and the long-term questions of foreign policy, of war and peace. For those who haven’t had a loved one serving in these current conflicts, it offers a window to explore the world of military families and learn from their experiences. And for many military families, those with skin in the game, Peggy’s book will help validate feeling and experiences and pave a way to connection so that families can take comfort, and take action. Together we will not feel so alone; collectively we can make a difference.

In Peace and Solidarity,

Nancy Lessin

Co-founder, Military Families Speak Out (www.mfso.org )

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Peggy Logue

Peggy Logue is the mother of three children. Her youngest became a Marine and at age 19 was in some of the fiercest combat in Iraq with Lima 3/25th. Peggy has a Master’s in Education and has been writing for many years. She has several articles published in books and journals.

Peggy lives in Lebanon, Ohio.

Learn more about Skin in the Game on Facebook.

Anyone interested in getting a autographed copy of Skin in the Game for $20 plus shipping, please contact Peggy at [email protected]. Intense, raw, and profoundly honest, Skin in the Game illustrates the human side of war and the daily struggle for peace. But even more, it is the story of the struggle of an anti-war mama bear and her son in combat listening, respecting, and always loving each other.”





Author Details
Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I’ve posted on Veterans Today, I’ve had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner. My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me. Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000. I’ve been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I’m now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house. I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.
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