The After

A Veteran's Notes on Coming Home

By Michael Ramos

156 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 3 tables

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7807-8
    Published: March 2024
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7808-5
    Published: March 2024

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When Michael Ramos enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to serve as a chaplain’s bodyguard thirteen days before 9/11, he had no idea he would soon be sent to Iraq. But he embraced the posting, combat service, and career for a decade, until, at age thirty-four, the military told him his skill set was no longer relevant. Through divorce and remarriage, his son's choice to enlist in the Marines, the loss of friends to war and suicide, and his inability to sleep or rest, Michael struggled with the return to civilian life, and particularly with civilian attitudes toward veterans.

In twenty-four concussive, embodied, and nonlinear essays, Michael creates a challenging and complex portrait of what it means to be a warrior, civilian, veteran, father, husband, and teacher—for he ultimately uses the skills he developed in the military to help others find meaning in their lives. While this may sound like a redemption story, it is instead a brutally honest portrayal that refuses easy answers and seeks to help other war veterans realize they're not alone as they search for their place in the world.

About the Author

Michael Ramos is a writer and Iraq war veteran. He teaches creative writing and publishing at UNC Wilmington.
For more information about Michael Ramos, visit the Author Page.


"Powerfully written, unflinching accounts of life on active duty—essential reading for anyone who cares about our veterans."—Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)

"An intricate narrative of service, its meaning, and the life that comes after. Deeply felt. Beautifully written."—Elliot Ackerman, author of Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning

"Michael Ramos's raw, honest experiences chip away at the tired narrative of the broken veteran. His voice speaks for many and offers an opportunity for those removed from the toll of war to understand its impacts."—Heather Kelly, coauthor of The Knock at the Door: Three Gold Star Families Bonded by Grief and Purpose

"Ramos's restlessly circling, lyric voice makes coming home not a singular event but a cycle of returns. This is more than a military memoir: it's remarkable witness for anyone struggling to define their sense of self." —Graham Barnhart, author of The War Makes Everyone Lonely

"The After feels like a desert mirage, a masterful, dreamlike collection that allows both veteran and civilian to experience the heat, stench, and after of that desert war that no one ever really comes home from."—Kacy Tellessen, Eugene Sledge Award–winning author of Freaks of a Feather: A Marine Grunt's Memoir

"A veteran writer once asked if I knew of recent nonfiction war writing that went formally beyond narrative memoir or journalism to describe war with more lyrical experimentation. I told him as far I knew such a book didn't exist, though it should. Now, The After is that book."—Steven Moore, author of The Longer We Were There: A Memoir of a Part-Time Soldier