I’m a debut author currently serving with the Canadian Armed Forces. The inspiration for this novel came through a combination of direct experiences with colleagues and friends, as well as seeing the broader issue of treatment of veterans in the national media. As I wrote the novel, it also became a platform to explain some of what goes on in a soldier’s head, an important viewpoint in a society where less and less people have military experience.
So what’s the story about? It’s about Major Hugh Dégaré, a decorated Canadian soldier who never thought working a desk could be worse than combat. But shortly after starting an office job in Canada’s National Defence Headquarters, Hugh finds himself fighting to maintain his grip on reality. Amidst sleepless nights and increasingly intense memories from his combat service, he does what he’s always done: takes action. Afraid of being stigmatized by his chain of command, he enlists a psychologist and turns to an estranged friend, Daryl, an ex-soldier forced out of the military after losing both legs in an ambush. Despite his best efforts, Hugh’s rage continues to grow. When Elizabeth gets pregnant and Daryl separates from his wife, Hugh’s ad hoc support network begins to fall apart with no end in sight to his symptoms. Cornered, Hugh finally turns to a questionable military medical system, desperate to do anything to save his career, marriage and life itself. His sole remaining hope is that the system supposedly designed to help him doesn’t put the final nail into his coffin instead.
And for those who don’t know me, who am I to be writing this book? Well, while I don’t have combat stress or PTSD myself, I’ve seen enough of it over my 20 years of service to believe that I could offer an informed perspective. I’ve also got close to three years of service in Afghanistan, starting in 2002 when my platoon suffered 3 x Killed in Action due to a friendly fire bombing incident at Tarnak Farms. I was also on the last Canadian combat deployment in Afghanistan and as a result, I’ve seen the full progression in military efforts in that country from the initial invasion through the evolution of counter-insurgency techniques. While this book doesn’t dwell on war and combat, I think there’s enough of it to offer something to both military members, but also those who know somebody in the military and maybe had a question they wanted to ask but never felt right actually asking.
Really appreciative of the support so far and looking forward to any feedback or questions.
Thanks very much,