Thursday, November 10, 2011

Discarded Heroes

As you may know, my book, Yesterday's Tomorrow, touches on the realities of battle and how one copes with the things they have seen and done in that war zone once they're home. Coming home was often a torturous experience and men and women didn't understand what they were experiencing.
Today we call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I'm thrilled to have author Ronie Kendig as a guest on the blog today! Ronie's popular Discarded Heroes series touch on the issue of PTSD and more, and as we'll discover, Ronie is passionate about supporting the military. Ronie has graciously agreed to giveaway a copy of her latest release, Wolfsbane, so leave a comment for Ronie to be counted in the draw.


My military hunk walked into the bookstore I worked at, wearing BDUs, a Hawaiian tan like nobody’s business, and blue eyes that turned knees to putty. To say I was smitten is a heinous understatement. When he explained he was there looking for my coworker (who—thank goodness—was on lunch break), I stifled my disappointed. Offered to let him leave a message for her, so he did. He left a message and his phone number.
And I memorized it.
Then married the hunk a year later.

My love for our military heroes started at a very young age. I was three when my father trooped off to Vietnam, leaving my mother and brother to fend for ourselves. Years later, I would witness close friends kissing their soldiers goodbye as they head off to Operation Desert Shield/Storm. I watched them return home, very different men. They left their wives, families, irrevocably changed by war.
One way I dealt with life even from childhood was to create stories, whether with Barbies (ahem) or with a word processor. And I wrote what I knew—military life. Soldiers. Heroes.
Until one day at church, a young woman got up to ask for prayer during Sunday School. She wanted prayer for her husband—a Navy SEAL. Riddled with anger and a warrior mentality (which, I believe is a gift). His anger and unwillingness to get help destroyed their marriage. Two small children, their hero father gone, would have to forge a new life without him.
My heart broke. And with it that pedestal I’d so dutifully placed military heroes on. In that hour, I realized I could never again pen a story about our military heroes without showing the toll that life takes on them, their families, and—as a military brat, I can relate—their children.

A statistic recently reported that 92.5% of soldiers today experience some traumatic, combat situation—an attack, getting shot , etc. The statistics for those with post-traumatic stress disorder varies, and is invariably inaccurate. The inaccuracy comes from the fact that most of troops will not seek help because, in some situations, the PTSD diagnosis can be career-ending. Or they fear being perceived as weak—which is completely false. They are human. They are heroes.

The purpose of the Discarded Heroes remains the same as when the first book launched in July 2010—to open dialogue. Our heroes are returning home and will need to reintegrate, find a new normal. They needs us. But they probably won’t ask for help, and/or they may not even realize what they need. So, we can step up to the plate, do a little research about PTSD, and be prepared to listen—and pray. Pray for the troops. Pray for their healing, mentally and physically (for some).

From the National Center for PTSD:
There are four types of PTSD symptoms:
1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms):
Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. You may have nightmares. You even may feel like you're going through the event again. This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger -- a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event. Triggers might include:
o Hearing a car backfire, which can bring back memories of gunfire and war for a combat Veteran.
o Seeing a car accident, which can remind a crash survivor of his or her own accident.
o Seeing a news report of a sexual assault, which may bring back memories of assault for a woman who was raped.
2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event:
You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. For example:
o A person who was in an earthquake may avoid watching television shows or movies in which there are earthquakes.
o A person who was robbed at gunpoint while ordering at a hamburger drive-in may avoid fast-food restaurants.
o Some people may keep very busy or avoid seeking help. This keeps them from having to think or talk about the event.
3. Feeling numb:
You may find it hard to express your feelings. This is another way to avoid memories.
o You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships.
o You may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy.
o You may not be able to remember parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.
4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal):
You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as hyperarousal. It can cause you to:
o Suddenly become angry or irritable
o Have a hard time sleeping.
o Have trouble concentrating.
o Fear for your safety and always feel on guard.
o Be very startled when something surprises you.

Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat and married a veteran. Together, she and her husband have four children, a Golden Retriever, and a Maltese Menace. She has a degree in psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Rapid-Fire Fiction, her brand, is exemplified through her novels Dead Reckoning, a spy thriller, and the military thriller series, The Discarded Heroes, which includes Nightshade (Retailer’s Choice Award Finalist), Digitalis, Wolfsbane, and Firethorn (January 2012). Ronie can be found at www.roniekendig.com, on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.

16 comments:

Loree Huebner said...

Hi Catherine and Ronie! Ronie, your book sounds good.

Love that you married that hunk!

I wrote a novel that is Civil War era about a wounded soldier who comes back home from the war with many of the same symptoms. Back then, they didn't understand any of it. They just blamed it on battle fatigue and called it "soldier's heart."

Great to meet you, Ronie.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Ronie, thank you for writing books featuring this crucial topic. I grew up in an Air Force family and many of my friends are still part of military families. I am grateful for our military and the sacrifices they make for us, and they deserve all the support and understanding we can give them.

Rachel said...

Hi Ronnie! I'm so impressed with your life's journey! And so happy for you as well. I love that you have chosen to trust your instincts, utilize your life's experiences and push yourself creatively. You are doing excellent work in the world and supporting so many with your craft! Go Girl!!
Rachel

Ronie Kendig said...

Thanks, Cathy, for graciously inviting me over to your blog for the day. Thanks, Loree. My father-in-law calls it shell-shock, too. It's heartbreaking!

Rosslyn - I am right there with you, grateful for our military and the sacrifices they and their families make!

Rachel - Thank you! God's been very merciful to me, and so good to let me be on this journey!

Julie Lessman said...

Great post, Cath and Ronie!! And, Ronie's giving away a book?? Then PLEASE sign me up NOW, 'cause this is one drawing I don't want to miss!! :) Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

Hugs,
Julie

Beth K. Vogt said...

Ronie,
Thank you for this oh-so important post. As the wife of a retired Air Force officer, I respect all branches of the military and the sacrifices our service men and woman make -- and the ones made by their families. I am so thankful that more attention is being paid to the problem of PTSD and the needs of our soldiers and their families.
Thank you for being part of that, Ronie.

Carolyn Boyles said...

The guy on the cover is gorgeous! I want one for Christmas (don't tell my husband-shhh.)

I can sympathize with our troops all too well with PTSD. I am a traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury survivor. I still have problems driving by the scene of the accident and it's been 17 years come Monday next week.

We definitely need to raise awareness of PTSD as a problem for our soldiers and their families.

Carolyn Boyles
authorboyles@swbell.net

Catherine West said...

Love this post, Ronie! Thanks for being here today. So I just finished Nightshade. I wish I had started your books before now, but better late than never! On to the next one!! You rock!! You know what, we didn't talk about the dogs!! You will have to come back again!!!

Sharon said...

Just goes to show a good woman always gets her man!! Can't wait to read the book.
Sharon Srock
sharonlsrock@sbcglobal.net

Dineen A. Miller said...

Wonderful post from an awesome writer. Cathy, thank you for sharing Ronie with us. She's amazing! :-)

Erynn said...

Love, love, love it. Especially that you stole yo man. ;) I may have mentioned this before, but I love what you're doing and why. And it doesn't hurt that your books are made of AWESOME and full of hunks.
Can't wait for the next one and the next one and the next one.

Anne Payne said...

Great post! Love how you went about gettin' your man :) And you know i"m a huge fan of your books. They are the best!

Nancy Kimball said...

Yesterday's Tomorrow is in my TBR pile (YAY!) and I wanted to drop by and say hi to Ronie =)

I'm so grateful for what you do for our heroes. Bipolar Disorder is the civilian version of PTSD, something generally "kept under wraps" but the more people are educated, the better off everyone is. And I loved reading how you and hubby met. So awesome.

Kimberly said...

Ronnie, I've enjoyed all of your books so far and look forward to reading this one as well.
kimberlyj503atgmaildotcom

Ronie Kendig said...

Thank you all so very much for stopping by and commenting for a chance to win Wolsbane. It touches my heart to see many of you so interested/invested in our military!

Nancy - I am really curious about your comment. What research are you referring to for this? PTSD *is* civilian. It's post-traumatic stress disorder, and according to the DSM-IV, PTSD must have two events that occur: A. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present:

(1) the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others (2) the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Unless the individual with Bipolar disorder has had this, then they aren't the same. I *can* see how they could be connected (someone with Bipolar could really "collapse" emotionally in combat), but again, I'm curious to understand how you are saying they are the same (promise, I'm not being antagonistic--you've aroused my curiosity here).

There are other criteria, and you could visit this PTSD site to see the official definition of PTSD, which centers on the trauma (hypervigiliance, extreme avoidance of stimuli that brings the event to mind, etc.): http://ptsdcombat.blogspot.com/2006/07/dsms-definition-for-ptsd.html

As you can see, the standard definition does not limit the event to combat, but there has been in recent years a recognized as a subset of PTSD.

Biopolar may have connections, but is has a substantial genetic contribution and no trauma is required to have been introduced for this diagnosis. The two can "co-occur," as there is research that children who have been abused exhibit PTSD symptoms as well.

That is probably way more than you wanted to know, and I am certainly not a doctor, but psychology is what I majored in and have spent a great deal of time over the last few years reading research connected to PTSD as well. Please don't take this as a 'slam down," but as me dialoguing because I sincerely am curious.

Merry said...

I found my military hunk in Hawaii! I love your heart for those who serve us so bravely. I'd love to be entered for Wolfsbane.
worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com