By JENNIFER DOLSEN on May 25, 2016
“Tribe,” Sebastian Junger’s latest book, attributes vets’ loss of purpose when they return home to modern society.
Sometime after I returned from a deployment in Afghanistan in 2010, Sebastian Junger and the late Tim Hetherington’s documentary film “Restrepo” was released. Many service members anticipated the documentary, and having gone through a U.S. Army leadership school with many of the film’s enlisted soldiers a year prior and my former mentor being a public affairs liaison to the unit, I was among the curious. A year later in 2011, my unit was tasked to close the door on operations in Iraq. As resources became limited and mail service stopped, Junger’s “War” was passed around and read throughout our offices.
It seems fitting that the release of Junger’s latest book, “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging,” coincides a couple years into my own struggle with leaving my military community and placement in society.
“Tribe” isn’t solely about war or soldiers. Rather, it pinpoints events in history and examines the human condition throughout war-torn and disaster-stricken communities where group loyalty and cohesion in the face of hardship was the key to survival. As advances in modern society flourish, allowing for more individualistic choices and self-reliance away from communal groups, Junger asks why — despite such miraculous advances — we can be surrounded by people and yet feel dangerously alone. He uses these advances in society, varying degrees of affluence, government fraud, financial industry scams, and economic injustice as a vehicle to discuss mental health, suicide, and the isolation of a divided society. Multiple cross-cultural studies show, “rather than buffering people from clinical depression, increased wealth in a society seems to foster it.”