Colonel Susan Luz, the highest-ranking female member of her Massachusetts Army Reserve unit, was 56 when she received the letter deploying her unit to Iraq. She packed her bags, kissed her husband goodbye, and set off on a journey that would test her leadership as an officer, her compassion as a nurse, and her resolve as a witness to the brutalities of modern warfare. Her 15 months on the ground during the surge in Iraq in 2006 and 2007 form the keystone of a book of life of service.
A life of service began in Brazil as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1972-75 working in Quixada in the interior of the country. While a PCV she was attacked and raped by a gang of teenagers, all three of whom were caught and jailed and sentenced to life in prison.
It took her best friend, who joined the Peace Corps with her, a week to reach Quixada to be with her after the attack. Susan writes in her memoir, “Some of the big guns from the Peace Corps flew down from Washington, D.C. The incident hit the newspaper in the States. Later, because of what had happened to me, the Peace Corps changed their policy: no female Volunteer could ever be stationed alone again. I felt a small shred of satisfaction in that, though I’m not positive even that would have helped. I wasn’t alone when I was attacked. It was broad daylight. I was walking in a well-traversed area.”
After the Peace Corps she worked in inner-city schools, jails, and adolescent psychiatric wards, and joined the Army Reserve. In 2007 she was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service while in Iraq.
Her book is entitled, The Nightingale of Mosul: A Nurse’s Journey of Service, Struggle, and War and was published in May of this year. We’ll be reviewing it soon on this site.