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'Healing Sgt. Warren': Touching, painful, poignant, readers say

October 11, 2013|By Deirdre Edgar
  • Sgt. Jonathan Warren dons his Army uniform before attending a ceremony honoring veterans at Vanguard University.
Sgt. Jonathan Warren dons his Army uniform before attending a ceremony… (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles…)

"Touching, painful and poignant" is how one reader described "Healing Sgt. Warren," a story in Sunday's Los Angeles Times. That reader was one of many who wrote to The Times with comments about the article by Christopher Goffard and photos and video by Rick Loomis.

Goffard told the story of Army Sgt. Jonathan Warren, who was riding in a Humvee in Iraq with four other soldiers, including his best friend from basic training, Scott Stephenson. When their vehicle hit a buried explosive, Stephenson was badly burned, and Warren blamed himself for not doing more for his friend.

Warren, who grew up in Laguna Niguel, returned to Orange County after his tours of duty and found help in an experimental program through the VA.

Many readers said they were deeply moved by the story.

Stephen Downing of Long Beach:

"I have tears in my eyes having just read your story. I have venom in my belly for what we have done and are doing to our young people in the name of national security. I ... want to help this hero named Jonathan Warren and have no idea how. Thank you for taking all the time it took you to tell this story, told so well. It is one that should give even the most vicious warmonger pause. I will pray for Jonathan's continued recovery."

Jeff in Sherman Oaks:

"I just finished reading your story in today's Times. All I can say is that it moved me deeply. I can't yet put those feelings into words. I know that I will be thinking about this story for some time. Those two guys, Warren and Stephenson, are the biggest of heroes, and I pray for their healing. Your piece was visceral and searing -- like that burning Humvee. I hope that you will do a follow-up story at some point, and if you do, I pray for a happy ending."

Jean Worland:

"I am so terribly moved by your article on Jonathan Warren. As an evangelical Christian, please tell him his view of what God expected of him, i.e., that he had to be perfect, is so terribly erroneous. It's precisely because God knew we COULDN'T be perfect that he sent his son to die for us so we could have Christ's mantle of perfection, not our own."

A. Olympius of Irvine:

"In all of the years I have subscribed to the L.A. Times, this story is the most powerful story The Times has published. Thank you for bringing Jonathan Warren to life for all of us to admire. I hope, with continuing help, his demons will soon let him rest."

Others saw parallels between Warren's experiences and those of Vietnam vets.

Art Szoke:

"As a Vietnam-era veteran, father of an active-duty Iraq combat veteran and former mental health worker, I felt compelled to write and tell you how moved I was by your excellent article on Sgt. Warren and his good friend and combat buddy, Stephenson. Our current veterans, as their brothers-in-arms who went before them, have encountered the unthinkable horrors of war. These men and women, through no fault of their own outside of serving their country, have ended up as the discarded members of our society.... I certainly hope that your story made some impact on those who would rather forget our veterans who are suffering with mental health issues than providing the help that they need. Thank you for telling their story."

J.M. Pendergrast:

"From a Vietnam War veteran, your article on Warren, the best I've ever read on combat-related issues, will help the American people understand the true meaning of what sacrifices are being made on their behalf. Great work!"

And still other readers saw the story as a lesson for understanding the needs of returning servicemen and women.

Dr. Hass Mohaghegh:

"As a nation, we have various ways to express our appreciation for 'our servicemen' while at war. But NO ONE has the time or the desire to hear or read about the stresses these young men have to live with after they come home. Your article needs to be read/heard by all Americans."

Arthur Auerbach of Newport Beach:

"I think too many Americans were never engaged in the horror of these wars and sadly never will feel the pain ... and the damage we have inflicted. Continue with this monumental feat of telling the nation how it feels, what it means, and why we should keep these men in our hearts."

Maria Calleia:

"The touching, painful and poignant story of Jonathan Warren and Scotty Stephenson is yet another example of the ravages of war. In some ways, the deaths of this war seem like a blessing compared to the battles this pair must still wage. Thank you for shedding light on the darkness of these casualties and their day-to-day struggles. No matter our politics, these people epitomize the realities of war that we often choose to ignore. My heart aches for all of them."

Victoria Parret:

"Thank you for your spellbinding article on these American heroes. We need to be reminded every day of the sacrifice these warriors make for our country. We cannot be allowed to forget for even one day that they are in danger around the world at our behest, and that whatever happens to them is our responsibility as a citizenry. We need to do a much better job of tending to this flock when they return home."

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