Parenting

I went to Montrose, Colorado to find out more about this town’s efforts to help military veterans reintegrate into civilian life. I did, and wrote a book. I also got lessons in parenting — from fathers and mothers.

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Focus

Retired Master Sergeant Sandra Brownlee once trained young soldiers to think of themselves as “superheroes.” 

“We’re taught that way for a reason,” she told me. “So that when it’s time to go out and defend this country or any other country, we don’t lose focus.”

Brownlee believes that those who have completed their service remain capable of anything. That informs her new vocation of helping fellow veterans reintegrate into civilian life.

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Forward

Tomi Adeyemi tells an intricate story. Nuanced characters move through a remarkably realized world. A fantasy fan could find escape in her debut novel Children of Blood and Bone with little regard for subtext, or be nudged toward new understanding.

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Beast

Reading Priya Sharma’s first collection of short stories All the Fabulous Beasts, I found myself thinking fairy and folk tales were the first fantasies, with snakes and birds masquerading as human, and gods getting involved in human dramas, as they do in Western and Eastern mythologies.  Sharma’s influences include Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, a reworking of classic fairy tales that she found “beautifully written and actually quite subversive as well.”

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Wait

The Cohen Veterans Network, which runs mental health clinics across the country, has arrived in Colorado with its pledge that therapists will see those who have served since 9/11 and their families within a week of initial screening.

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Anthem

Aretha Franklin gave a slow, unadorned, almost funereal rendition of our national anthem. A version you could take a knee to. A version that gave me the title for my book.

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Weed

Only one facility in the nation, at the University of Mississippi, has federal approval to grow marijuana for research, creating a bottleneck even as military veterans press for studies into a drug many believe can help relieve their PTSD symptoms. The clamor to try something new like marijuana is driven by frustration with old remedies. 

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