I interrupt my discussion of “Thanks for the Memory” to mark a day of unparalleled celebration: my friend is being released from prison today.
My friend will remain unnamed to protect his privacy. The release comes after he has served more than twenty-seven years. Although we have never met face-to-face, we have been exchanging letters for the last four years. It began when he read my novel, The Trion Syndrome, about a man suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), as I do. My friend explained to me in his letters that he, too, is subject to that curse as a consequence of his military service in Vietnam in 1967. I was there at the same time, serving on the battlefield as a civilian under cover as military, in the same section of Central Vietnam as my friend was, but we never met.
Although my friend has never claimed that PTSI contributed to the acts for which he was imprisoned, I have to believe that the soul damage inflicted by combat must have played a role. It changed my life, leading me to write to vent my anguish. It was the underlying basis of two of my books, Last of the Annamese and The Trion Syndrome, both written to help me face my PTSI. The disease changes the victim’s life. It had to have affected my friend deeply.
Miraculously, despite years of serving on the battlefield, I was never wounded, but my friend wasn’t so lucky. He was wounded twice. And he was decorated for his service. He received a Purple Heart, a Gold Star (for the second wounding), and a Bronze Star with “V” for valor.
So today is my Halleluiah Day. I’ll spend the day celebrating my friend’s return to freedom at long last.