In 1994, Romeo Dallaire served as commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda and tried his utmost to stop the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in 100 days.
More than two decades later, Dallaire continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this gut-wrenching narrative, he candidly shares his vulnerabilities, humiliations, drug and alcohol dependency, suicide attempts, and the pain his PTSD inflicted on his family. He writes, “Rwanda will never end and I will never be free. I know there is no remedy for what I saw, what I did and did not do, during those three months of hell.”
Despite his despair, nightly terrors, and seething anger at the way vulnerable populations are treated in the world, Dallaire has found purpose in his mission to eradicate the exploitation and use of child soldiers as weapons of war.
Dallaire dedicated Waiting for First Light to his wife and three children—each is involved in humanitarian work because of his experience—“as an example to other veterans that no matter the depth of the injury, all may not be lost. Out of the darkness of my PTSD has come the capacity to understand human suffering, and with it, the first small healing rays of love.”
Dallaire’s book is an important call to action for governments to care for soldiers and veterans. It is also an invitation for citizens to educate themselves about PTSD so that veterans will be understood, welcomed back into caring communities, and receive the honor they deserve. (Random House Canada)