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Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital [Kindle Edition]

Heidi Squier Kraft
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When Lieutenant Commander Heidi Kraft's twin son and daughter were fifteen months old, she was deployed to Iraq. A clinical psychologist in the US Navy, Kraft's job was to uncover the wounds of war that a surgeon would never see. She put away thoughts of her children back home, acclimated to the sound of incoming rockets, and learned how to listen to the most traumatic stories a war zone has to offer.
One of the toughest lessons of her deployment was perfectly articulated by the TV show M*A*S*H: "There are two rules of war. Rule number one is that young men die. Rule number two is that doctors can't change rule number one." Some Marines, Kraft realized, and even some of their doctors, would be damaged by war in ways she could not repair. And sometimes, people were repaired in ways she never expected. RULE NUMBER TWO is a powerful firsthand account of providing comfort admidst the chaos of war, and of what it takes to endure.

Editorial Reviews


"Every American needs to read this."—General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret), former commander of U.S. Central Command


"A for anyone wishing to understand." (Booklist )

"Wins respect with genuine empathy." (Military Times )

"Direct and honest...every page provides evidence of the long-lasting effect [Kraft's] time in Iraq has had on her." ( )

"Emotional and powerful, it's a piece of work that is worth sitting down with." (Palos Verdes Peninsula News )

Product Details

  • File Size: 731 KB
  • Print Length: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (October 24, 2007)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,896 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who cares for the caregivers? October 19, 2007
Dr. Kraft has written a fresh, emotionally bruising record of what it is to be a care giver not just to those who obviously need it, but to those whose experiences lash them from the inside. This is the book for anyone who ever wanted a concise version of the direct and indirect mental cost of combat.

The wrenching depictions of comrades in arms openly weeping for those who used to sit and laugh beside them, of leaders expressing love and care for those for whom they are responsible, of the small things and large which provide relief and anchors for those caught up in chaos all leave a reader wondering how it is anyone can truly survive combat unscathed. Intervention after intervention trod upon each's heels; from the schizophrenic Marine who argues with his combat knife, to the weathered veteran who wants hypnosis so he can stop his two-pack a day smoking habit, to talking down a Marine with a rifle muzzle to her head, weeping as she apologizes for what she is about to do, even when the interventionalists themselves find themselves on the receiving end of an ad hoc group session held by a commander of a neighboring unit who happens to be a practicing psychiatrist, even addressing the stress of being one of the new "untouchables" - graves registration Marines. "We did the best we could" is the strong underlying theme throughout this memoir. This is a powerful rendering of what we ask others to do, and suffer, in our name.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rule Number Three December 10, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Rule number three: Rule number one and two compel us to provide our armed forces with the compassionate combat stress care of doctors like Lieutenant Commander Heidi Squier Kraft.

Rule number one and two refer to a particular episode of M*A*S*H. Use the search inside feature for more about this. I met Alan Alda once. Having followed his career, I noticed he gives medical commencements. His advice after a near death surgical crisis is, "Treat me like a human being".

That is exactly what Dr Kraft describes in her memoir as a Navy flight psychologist, marine pilot's wife, submariners daughter, colleague friend and confidant. She is one of the Marines "Alpha" female care givers at the Combat Hospital in Anbar Province, Iraq.

I recall reading the news story of Marine Corporal Dunham's heroism and susequent Medal of Honor. It is comforting to know he was treated with such dignity and compassion by Dr. Kraft and her team at Alpha Surgical.

This book is a compelling read and allays some of my fears about how our military addresses combat stress. You will meet members of our military requiring the assistance of Heidi Kraft. Many looking for someone to talk with, at Alpha Surgical Hospital, so they can rejoin their units. Some would not make it.

I was also pleased to see 10% of Dr. Kraft's royalties are donated to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. As if she hasn't already given enough.

Ma'am, thank you!
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read brings the war close to home October 25, 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and within the first chapter found that I had a hard time putting it down. Kraft gives a real-life perspective of the experiences and impressions of a modern day war. She provides a realistic view on the emotions and every day details that haven't been captured by the media. And after reading this, I feel closer to the war in Iraq and the individuals who give their time, hearts and minds to fighting.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Club Book December 7, 2007
I could not put this book down. The author gives us a view into the war we don't see readily from home. We are privileged to experience the heart and soul of a soldier -- in particular the loyalty each has for one another. I was awestruck by the amazing strength of a mother away from her children to serve her country. It made me proud to be an American. It made me proud to be a mom.

Finally, I appreciated the insight into the human mind-- how we as humans process emotionally difficult and heavy situations-- and that with some work and effort, we can ultimately get through them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting; Highly Recommended for Therapists August 30, 2009
The stories are astonishing. Honestly, I'm still processing them. She may not have been out there fighting, but she was doing her work at the point of conflict, running on adrenaline, compassion, determination, and nothing resembling normal sleep. Plenty of others here have discussed one or another tragic, traumatic, challenging situation, so I won't do that here (though so much of what she wrote is unforgettable).

I think this is a great book for anybody who wishes to help vets in a sophisticated way. We'll NEVER be able to understand what our troops go through during war, though this book paints an extraordinarily poignant picture. With her stories, the author clues us into a world of well-meaning attitudes and strategies -- some that she found were helpful and some that decidedly were not.

I bought this book out of sheer interest (the esteemed alum gave a talk to SDSU while I was teaching there; she used to work at the VA hospital in La Jolla), and out of my own desire to be a better therapist for vets. I think the book will help therapists better understand their clients' experiences in combat. Moreover, it shares the rare perspective of a deployed psychologist. Kraft had all the standard cognitive-behavioral training and experience, but found that the research-based, textbook approach didn't give her what she needed to do her best amidst the chaos. Her "case load" was huge and cut deeply into her psyche. If nothing else, this book will help one understand the "traumatic transference" that therapists can experience. The mere exposure (albeit second or third hand) is part of what makes this book a gem. (This paragraph is such an understatement...)

Highly recommended.

Another book that I'm finding helpful with vets is "Strategies for Managing Stress After War: Veteran's Workbook and Guide to Wellness" by Whealin, DeCarvalho and Vega. (It is an educational text for vets, not a collection of stories...)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting take on mental health in combat stressful situation...
Very interesting take on mental health in combat stressful situation. Insightful
Published 2 months ago by betty
4.0 out of 5 stars No More Sucking it Up Alone
A very good behind-the-scene book about clinicians in the mental health field operating in a combat area. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Frank Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling
I was really surprised at how much of a page-turner this book was. I read it cover to cover in two days. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Chris Maniscalco
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging read
Well-written, engrossing, first-hand account of Kraft's service as a clinical psychologist serving on the front lines of the Iraq War. The book is engaging from the first line. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Marianne S.
1.0 out of 5 stars So, what HAVE you learned, Dr. Heidi?
The subject of the book and background of the author intrigued me. As someone with a love for reading about psychology and psychiatry, I thought this book would be fascinating. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Cherith Cutestory
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
Kraft tells gripping stories--her own as well as those of the Marines she treated. May God bless her and our courageous Marines. We owe them a great deal.
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-rending!
I was shocked, enlightened, saddened. To learn what you don' t know from the media, helps you to understand what military personnel and their families go through. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars More than bullets
Well written with a keen angle towards mental health, war time deployment issues and how the Marine Corps and supporting units are affected by both.
Published 16 months ago by BT Yates
5.0 out of 5 stars wow
I completed two tours to Iraq. I have purposely not read books written about the war because I was just not ready to deal with what I went through or how I feel about my... Read more
Published 17 months ago by cclark
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book if looking for personal experience- not a medical book
This book is a fantastic account of Dr Kraft's experience in Iraq. The only complaints I see about it is from military spouses complaining their service isn't represented enough,... Read more
Published 19 months ago by 13 year multiservice vet
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More About the Author!/pages/Dr-Heidi-Squier-Kraft/331286446932188

Heidi Squier Kraft received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology in 1996. She joined the Navy during her internship at Duke University Medical Center, serving as both a flight and clinical psychologist. Her active duty assignments included the Naval Safety Center, the Naval Health Research Center, and Naval Hospital Jacksonville, FL.

While on flight status, she flew in nearly every aircraft in the Navy and Marine Corps inventory, including over 100 hours in the F/A-18 Hornet, primarily with Marine Corps squadrons. In February 2004, she deployed to western Iraq for seven months with a Marine Corps surgical company, when her boy and girl twins were fifteen months old. RULE NUMBER TWO is a memoir of that experience.

She left active duty in 2005 after nine years in the Navy, and now serves as a consultant for the US Navy and Marine Corps' Combat Stress Control programs. She treats active duty patients who suffer from PTSD, and provides invited talks on combat stress, stigma and caring for the caregiver, for 50-60 audiences per year. She lives in San Diego with her husband Mike, a former Marine Corps Harrier pilot, and twins Brian and Megan, who have no memory of their mother's time in Iraq.

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