The second of the two issues that has driven my writing is combat and the damage it inflicts on the human soul.
Friendly Casualties, The Trion Syndrome, and Last of the Annamese center on the Vietnam war. Friendly Casualties, a novel-in-short-stories, tells of people damaged by the war. The Trion Syndrome is about a Vietnam vet suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), just as I do. And Last of the Annamese catalogues the horrors of the fall of Saigon, which I survived.
I wrote all three novels because I wanted people to know how unspeakably ghastly war is. And I wanted to show the psychic wounds that combatants are subject to. I wanted to convey to the reader the suffering exacted by memories so hideous that they will never rest.
To my surprise, readers’ response has so often been to express gratitude. Combatants thank me for letting people know the horrors they have endured. Ordinary citizens who have never been to war thank me for helping them understand. And sufferers of PTSI are grateful that someone else understands their torment. Many talked about how my insights helped them handle their memories.
I know another Vietnam vet who is struggling to write about his bouts with PTSI. I urge him to write because he can help other men and women with the malady. I tell him how men who went through combat and grapple with their unbearable memories have thanked me for helping them cope.
And what greater fulfillment can a writer have than to know that his work has helped others?