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Page 18
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If You Ain't Cheatin', You Ain't Tryin'

By John Zutz (reviewer)

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If You Ain't Cheatin', You Ain't Tryin'
by Joy Damiani

(Words & Music, 2022)

Once the author informs the reader that the title of the book was passed on to her by a friendly NCO, and is the main lesson she learned in the Army, it becomes apparent that this will not be a story about "Being All You Can Be." In fact the manuscript could be used for counter-recruiting since it exposes many of the lies built into military service.

As she neared High School graduation she rebelled against her parents and landed in a reform school. Later she was caught by the poverty draft, baited with the promise of money for college. Her five-year enlistment was caused by a lying, cheating recruiter. After the five, she was stop-lossed when the Army cheated by extending her enlistment beyond the contract length (actually this was a double cheat by the Army).

It seems that most every interaction between enlistment and ETS was cheating of one sort or another. And of course, she applied herself and cheated the Army as much as she could. Occasionally she even managed to hold the high ground, or at least the contest ended in a draw.

But her actions didn't come close to repaying the Army for its' sins.

Her story exposes many of the shortcomings of the post 9/11 army. It's a bit kinder, and a bit gentler, but there are many more traps, and certainly many more potholes.

As a Vietnam vet I can relate to the differences in our service. In my time it was the Army way or else. No questions allowed. Ms. Damiani had a chance to question the directives, after which, according to the story, they would lie to get her acquiescence. Then she'd do whatever they asked semi-willingly.

Full disclosure: I have met the author in another aspect of her artistic ability—music. She is multi-talented and I recommend you search for her songs. The truth comes out in her music and her music is much more hard hitting than her book. If you like Jim Wachtendonk, you'll like Joy Damiani.

John Zutz is a Milwaukee VVAW member.

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