It’s clear in the photo that Jesse chose joy, chose to truly LIVE even after everything he’d seen and experienced (read more here). Jesse’s sergeant, who was with him the day he stepped on a pressure plate, said: “The way that [Jesse] continues to conduct his life is absolutely amazing and for that reason I would consider him a hero.”
Similarly, in his memoir Battle Ready, Navy medic Mark L. Donald describes in detail an event that laid the foundation for his later struggles with PTSD. He talked about friends and colleagues who didn’t make it home, and two friends in particular that he felt he had “failed” to save in his role as a medic (read more here). Yet there were two “forces” in his life that saved him: his mother and his faith.
When I hear veterans talk about faith, I often wonder if it came naturally to them, or if it was something they struggled with before they finally understood the role or impact of faith on their life.
I suspect it is the latter, and I often have my fictional characters grapple with faith. In fact, faith and sensuality exist side-by-side in my novels. Readers most likely to enjoy my writing are those who appreciate that these things co-exist in our own lives; who hasn’t questioned their faith in the darkest times of our own lives? Why should a character in a novel be any different?
Aaron Bricewick, amputee veteran/hero of True Surrender, returns home to find that he has yet to face his biggest battle – the battle within himself – and finds himself questioning everything he’s built his life on.
Much as countless returning veterans are doing.
There are many definitions of “war hero,” and surely Jesse and Mark exemplify some of them. Perhaps there’s even a little of each in the character of Aaron Bricewick. I hope he does them justice!