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Marine officer's new book tackles tough issues through satire

A new book by a medically retired Marine infantry officer captain is sure to make anyone but the saltiest enlisted grunt blush, according to its author, as . As for officers, they might have a meltdown when they read the gritty comedy that holds nothing sacred as it lampoons all aspects of military life from firefights to liberty.

"Embarrassing Confessions of a Marine Lieutenant: Operation Branding Iron 2.1A" by former infantry officer Capt. Danny Maher, published in late June under his stage name Capt. Donny O’Malley [[when was this released? GH, June 29/jks]], is a look into the dark and irreverent humor of young Marines who are forced to confront the worst of humanity in the war zone as they deploy to kill and be killed.

The book is full of explicit language and is likely to offend some. Maher acknowledges that many will be appalled by stories that detail everything from sex to combat kills — but he doesn't care. He has written it exclusively for those who use the darkest of humor to cope with the horrors of war, he said.

The Amazon e-book many veteran readers say is full of cover-to-cover laughs, has a more serious purpose, too: combating the 22 military-related suicides a day that tally about 8,000 per year. The best way to do that is by to reminding veterans -- Maher says in his case through humor -- of their membership in a life-long, combat-forged brotherhood, Maher said.

"My goal is that guys never lose contact and keep the same brotherhood they had in the service going," he said. "By doing so, guys won't get so lonely, feel no one understands them and no one ever will, and end up taking their life."

Maher, who deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, in 2012, was inspired to write the book after several veterans he knew took their own lives was directly and indirectly connected to committed suicide. He believes the same dark humor that helps Marines through their toughest deployments can help those fighting demons back homebrand of raw, irreverent humor he uses to fight the lingering daemons of combat and ease veterans’ transition back to civilian life which can feel disorienting, isolating, and mundane, is the same type that got him and his Marines through tough, violent deployments to Afghanistan.

‘Embarrassing Confessions of a Marine Lieutenant: Operation Branding Iron 2.1A’ by former infantry officer Capt. Danny Maher, published under his stage name Capt. Donny O’Malley
‘Embarrassing Confessions of a Marine Lieutenant: Operation Branding Iron 2.1A’ by former infantry officer Capt. Danny Maher, published under his stage name Capt. Donny O’Malley

A new book by medically retired Capt. Danny Maher pokes fun at all aspects of military life, including the idea that new officers are no good at land navigation. Maher hopes the books reminds troubled veterans that they have a community they can turn to in dark times.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Danny Maher

When writing, he thought of He is writing for those like his friend Lance Cpl. Artem "Art" Lazukin, a double amputee who stepped on an improvised explosive devise during a 2011 deployment to Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. The two met in the Wounded Warrior Battalion West while Maher was recovering from non-combat ankle and shoulder injuries that ended his career. Lazukin, was a double amputee – the result of an IED he stepped on while entering a compound during a 2011 deployment to Sangin, Afghanistan, with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines.

Lazukin told Maher to keep his writing raw. never water down his writing. Marines could relate to it, he said, adding that Maher shouldn't worry about the public not being able to handle an honest look at life in the war zone. If the unbridled truth of life in the infantry and in combat was too much for the public to handle, then consequences be damned.

"Dude, as soon as I feel a glimpse of sadness I go on your website," Lazukin texted Maher in January. "I’ve been rereading it and it’s the only thing that makes me laugh hysterically. Can’t thank you enough bro. Keep being raw and honest…"

On March 29, Lazukin shot himself.

"After my buddy killed himself, I wanted to use the attention I knew I would get for good," Maher said. "It is my hope that my book might make a guy put his gun back on safe, put it on the night stand and make him not put the gun back to his head the next day."

Staff Sgt. Tim Davis, an infantryman who deployed with Maher [[corect? GH/ yes/jks]] within 2/5 in 2012, said Maher was always professional on the battlefield. But his sense of humor helped his company through a tough deployment, and that's something that could benefit vets struggling at home, too. a That isn’t to say Maher was all jokes all the time, he said, but he . Those who served with him described him as a capable officer they trusted when it came to life and death. But unlike many others, he knew when to let loose.

"When lieutenant Maher would come out on missions he was there to do his job," said Staff Sgt. Tim Davis, an infantryman who deployed within 2/5 in 2012. "But as soon as the Kevlar came off, he was funny. We were doing very serious work, but with a light heart," Davis said.

It's hard enough to lose a friend in combat where it is expected, Davis said, but even tougher to sign onto social media one morning and find out a friend took his own life.

It is a philosophy Davis agrees with saying that to lose a friend in combat was expected. But, it is much harder to swallow when you wake up, grab a coffee and learn through Facebook that a veteran you know took his own life.

"You think about what you could have done or any interaction you had that might have changed their course of action," he said.

Medically retired Capt. Danny Maher during a 2012 deployment to Afghanistan with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Danny Maher

That's why Maher is using his book and other events through his veterans group, Irreverent Warriors, to bring troops together. That sense of community reminds those who might be feeling isolated that there are people who understand what they've been through, said Carl Dietz, a former first lieutenant [[first or second? GH// first/jks]] who deployed with Maher and Davis in was on the 2012.  deployment with Davis and Maher, agrees

"There can be a dark spiral where people think nobody appreciates what we went through, that they don't understand it, that they don't want to understand it and that gets them in a self-reinforcing downward spiral," Dietz said. "Anything that breaks that is important."

Maher recently led a trek along the Southern California coast to bring awareness to suicide prevention. In keeping with his humorous approach to combat issues plaguing the military community, those participating completed the roughly 13 mile hike in Marines' favorite short shorts: silkies.

Maher said he wonders whether friends like thinks Lazukin might still be here if they had felt that sense of camaraderie.   had been in closer contact with other combat veterans.That's is why every chapter of his book closes with the name with a reminder, by name, of a veteran who died by committed suicide, and a . That is followed with a call to action to send message to an old battle buddy.

Even a silly text message that is nothing more than directions to send an inappropriate text message to an that says something like, . The most benign reads "I miss you more than I missed my wife on deployment," can pull a  That, Maher hopes, could strike up the conversation or reunion that pulls a veteran out of isolation, Maher said.  and saves a life.

"It made my life complete when one guy said his two best friends and my book [were]is the reason he hasn't killed himself," Maher said.

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