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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"Keep it real, Grandma!"

By Vonnie Davis

Over a year ago when my editor told me she wanted a romantic series about former SEALs suffering with PTSD, I nearly declined. First off, how could I possibly make post traumatic stress romantic? Second--and more importantly--my second oldest grandson was battling his own PTS demons. A year to the day after he returned from serving in Afghanistan, he put a gun to his head. Thank God, it didn't fire. We still don't know why, except for God's divine intervention.

Josh had texted me shortly after arriving back in the States: Don't tell anyone. I'm in Texas.

Cryptic, even for Josh. Had he been reassigned? Was he keeping the news from an old girlfriend? What? I texted back: Why? Hey, I can be cryptic, too.

I don't want anyone but you to know I'm no longer in battle. I was injured.

Tell me where you are. I'm on my way.

No. I can't handle seeing anyone. I'll be okay. I'll tell you when I'm released, but no one else can know. I need to be alone.

I was in panicked Grandma mode. Josh had always been a headstrong child and we'd butted heads many times. He said he found security in my honesty and "house rules." So what was I to do with the few kernels of information he'd given me?

True to his word, he told me when he was released, again asking me not to tell his mother. I didn't understand all the secrecy or his refusal to tell me about his injuries. I told him about the new series I was writing, hoping it would prompt him to share. All he said was "Keep it real, Grandma."

I pushed. "What do you mean." And he finally opened up. His first injury had been to his bicep where a bullet wiped out his tattoo. He lost 2 close buddies in a mortar attack, their body parts covering him. He was standing in the hole of their vehicle, manning the machine gun, when a roadside bomb blew the vehicle up, causing a severe back injury and sending him to a hospital in Texas.

Josh told me about his triggers--for instance, he can't handle riding on the passenger side of a car because that side of the road goes "Boom!" There are night terrors. Depression. Avoidance of loud noise. He's on medication and seeing a counselor. He's making steady progress. I'm proud of his efforts to overcome his internal battle scars.

"I've ordered the first book in your new series, Grandma. You better have kept it real."

I hope I did.


BUY LINKS: https://amzn.com/B0174PTMU2

BARNES AND NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-survivor-vonnie-davis/1122885268?ean=9781101967928


15 comments:

  1. My heart breaks for Josh. Thanks to him for his service, but I so hate the price he's having to pay. I wish him healthy and happy.

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  2. Thank you, Liz. The books I read on PTSD cited his behavior of wanting to be alone after returning home as normal for those suffering emotionally. I'm only glad he reached out to me. He lives in Indiana and I live in Virginia. We recently saw each other and he barely left my side. "Ain't no lovin' like Grandma lovin'," he said. Weepy me, I cried.

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  3. So sorry about Josh! He must be an incredible young man!

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    1. He is, Karren. At the hospital, they told him he could have surgery to correct his back injury, but he had a 50% chance of never walking again. He decided against it, did therapy, and looked into healing herbs. Typical Josh did things his way. For him, it worked. His pain levels are down. He works full-time.

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  4. Thank you for an incredible story of bravery. It takes great courage to reach out to someone when you're battling emotional demons. Please tell us that Josh is doing fine now. I thank him for his service and wish him the very best.

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    1. Joan, he's doing much better emotionally. He's met a nurse who can handle his issues. He says she saved him and he adores her.

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  5. What a sad story for Josh, especially when you know many other veterans face the same demons and served under horrendous conditions. I'm so happy he's met someone who can help him. Please thank him for his service. You're a good aunt as well as a good writer. I'm ordering the book now.

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  6. The book is gritty, full of language battle-hardened men use. But I was "keeping it real." I'll pass along your kind words to Josh.

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  7. Most people have no real clue what these wars have cost us as a people through their damage to so many and sometimes that does not show. Hopefully he will find the answers and get the support he needs from the country as well as his family

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    1. Oh, Rain, you are so right. Until I began reading books written by psychologists and PTSD survivors I didn't realize the extent of the damages. I cried, hoping my Josh wouldn't have to deal with half of the fallout. He's been fighting a harder battle at home than he did abroad. So sad for all our service personnel.

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  8. My Uncle was sent home from his third tour in Vietnam with 'Battle Fatigue'. He stayed in the Marine Corp because that's who he was. To be honest, it was all he'd known since the age of seventeen. He died when he was twenty-seven. I wish we'd known then what we know now. It sounds like Josh is getting the help he needs. Good for him.

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  9. I've never personally known someone suffering from PTSD, and your story of Josh's struggles made me cry. I'm so glad you were there for him (of course, you were!) and he's on the long, slow road to recovery.

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  10. I'm hoping for the best for Josh. Thank you for educating your readers about the effects of PTSD. I'm looking forward to reading Her Survivor.

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  11. Thank Josh for his service. He and his friends have paid a terrible price. Hugs and prayers for complete healing. Please have him see a counselor who specializes in PTSD.

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  12. I'm guessing he was here at BAMC/SAMMC as they treat a lot of war wounded.

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