Midstate native, veteran tells of overcoming trauma in new book

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Jan 12, 2018 11:09 AM


(Harrisburg) -- A midstate native and Iraq War vet is hoping his new book will help others overcome trauma.

Josh Mantz of Sunbury, Northumberland County was shot and nearly killed in April 2007, while serving as a platoon leader for the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq.

He flat-lined for 15 minutes after a sniper's bullet severed a major artery in his leg.

In less than five months, he was back in Baghdad to finish his deployment.

But the story he writes in The Beauty of a Darker Soul: Overcoming Trauma Through the Power of Human Connection is not about any heroics or even the fallout from his physical wounds.

Mantz says it took him nearly a decade after that incident to realize it was the emotional wounds of guilt and shame that were driving his depression and suicidal thoughts.

About two years after his near-death experience, Mantz was asked to talk to veterans and other groups about the importance of seeking mental health treatment after trauma.

"It was during that national speaking circuit that I hit the first suicidal spiral" he said. "Just think of the irony of that--here I am, a national advocate for this topic, and I still failed to recognize it within myself."

Mantz says he wrote the book to help people deal with the challenges they face in their everyday lives.

"I never just wanted to write a story about the near-death experience. I definitely didn't want to write a war story, and it's not that at all," he said. "This is a journey of finding beauty within the darkness and finding meaning within suffering, which is something all of us experience."

Mantz now lives in California. He says he hopes to travel back to the midstate in March to promote the book.

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