LM Clark’s The Never-Ending War: The Unseen Scars of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Tate Publishing, 280 pp., $20.99, paper) is the story of author Laura M. Clark’s husband Ray’s Vietnam War tour of duty and the severe emotional problems he encountered afterward. It’s told in Ray Clark’s voice, although Laura Clark did the writing, changing “a verbal account of a horrific war story, ” Ray notes in the book’s Foreword, “into a picture everyone can see.”
Ray Clark joined the Marine Corps in September of 1966. “I was seventeen years old, ” he says, “was laid off from my job and had recently broken up with my girl friend. Having nothing better to do, I asked my dad if he would sign for me to join the Marine Corps. He reluctantly agreed to let me enlist, knowing that I’d probably get drafted anyway.”
Clark had boot camp at Parris Island, advanced training at Camp Geiger in North Carolina, and was assigned guard duty at the National Security Agency at Fort Meade in Maryland. He could have spent the rest of his hitch at Fort Meade, but Clark was not happy there. “I didn’t join the Marine Corps to stand guard on a two-by-three foot door mat, monitoring color coded ID badges for the next three and a half years, ” he says. “I joined to be a grunt, marine infantryman, doing what grunts do—fight!”
After he repeatedly requested to be sent to Vietnam, the Marines Corps agreed. Clark had two weeks of jungle training at Camp Pendleton in November of 1968. He arrived in country in early February of 1969 and was assigned to K Company of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Regiment of the 3rd Marine Division. Clark saw plenty of action during his year in Vietnam. And he paid a psychic price after returning home.
Ray Clark found help through his deep religious faith. As he puts it: “I’m resolved to the fact that my never-ending war will never entirely go away, but I do believe forgiveness of our past can be accomplished through God’s love and mercy if we will just ask him to.” God, Clark says, “has given each of us the ability to pursue and enjoy the rest of our lives if we will just begin by reaching out to him first.”
He has three pieces of advice along those lines: “1. Admit you are in need of his salvation. 2. Believe that Jesus is Lord and Christ. 3. Confess your sinful state to him, and you shall be saved.”