All the more important now that the Great Pumpkin will be throwing every sick person, veteran or not, onto a bonfire over which billionaires may safely warm their hands (those many deaths saving them, to their great satisfaction, a whole nickel on their power bills).
I haven’t said it in quite a while, but I’ll reiterate it today. I always call them “veterans’ organizations” and not “charities.” Charity is something given to those who’ve fallen on hard times, regardless of how or why.
Veterans who return from war with PTSD, missing limbs, burns, brain injuries, chemical poisoning, didn’t “fall on hard times.” They deliberately walked into hard times. Nobody who’s joined the United States Military in the last fifteen years is unaware of the price to be paid. They’ve seen it every day on the news. And yet, they still sign up. They still go, knowing that there’s a good chance of coming back with some kind of damage… and knowing that their government will most probably shrug and say, “Tough luck. If it costs a billionaire a nickel in taxes to keep you alive, you’re gonna have to die.” (And that’s the “supporting our troops” Republicans talking.)
My father had PTSD from his service in WWII. We didn’t know it, because it wasn’t a “thing.” He came back from the Pacific with no physical wounds, and that was that – “you got nothin’ to complain about.” Being fucked up in the head was something you just didn’t discuss. You just sucked it up.
I tell people that he was in military intelligence in Japan, Korea and Italy, and they say, “He must have some good stories!” I’m sure he did. He sure never told them. Because really, he didn’t talk to us at all. He lived in his own little world, emotionally walled off from us. I thought it was just because he was an asshole. Then I saw the miniseries The Pacific. And then I realized, no, that wasn’t the whole story.
I can’t even imagine how different our family would have been if he hadn’t been left to his own devices, which is to say none at all other than throwing up that wall. So while it’s too late for us, it’s not too late for the families of today’s veterans.
When I wrote A Little Too Broken, there were all kinds of “military romances” out and about, mostly hetero, and mostly quite awful. They exploited the “new adult” “I’m broken” trope and created Navy SEALs, Special Forces dudes, all Heros with Dark Secrets, without giving two fucks about as much as Googling PTSD. It reeked of exploitation to me – profiting off the suffering they were dropping into their crappy soup for flavor. The fact that veterans were coming back with Dark Secrets, and it wasn’t the kind of shit that True Love Can Fix, was easy to ignore, I suppose.
I hated New Adult. “Oh, he’s beautiful but he’s Broken Inside, but if you just FIX HIM, you’ll get to have it all, and he’ll be so grateful to you.” And man, did they scrape the bottom of the barrel for “broken” things after a while. There was one heteromance where the Marine came back, “broken” according to the blurb, and then it turns out what he had was … a shoulder injury, mentioned once in the book and then never again. W. T. F.
Some part of me screamed, “You people don’t know what broken is. I’ll give you fucking broken. I’ll give you something you can’t fucking ‘fix.’ I’ll give you… I don’t know… a soldier who lost his legs in Afghanistan and… a guy who’s HIV poz. There! Fix that, assholes!”
My first thought wasn’t a thought – it was that gong that rings in your head that announces the Advent of a Plot.
My second thought was, “O fuck I can’t do that. If it comes out wrong, it’ll be like the Worst Lifetime Movie Ever Made.”
My third thought, a few weeks later was, “Fuck it. Life is risk. You have a job, you’re making money on smut. Write the book, and if it is the WLMEM, throw it out. Nobody will have to know.”
When I finished it, I realized that it wasn’t Lifetimey. And, that I didn’t want to be one of “them,” the ones who exploited the suffering of others for personal gain. At first I thought, I’ll donate 10% of the proceeds to military-related support organizations.
Then, when that gnawed at me long enough, I realized, you know what? Half of this story isn’t mine. It’s theirs. Tom’s story is their story. And thus the 50% thing, that I’ve stuck with since November 2013, to the tune so far of $5,600 in donations to WWP (cut off some time before their public scandal, based on my own research), IAVA, and Puppies Behind Bars.
And now I’m writing the screenplay 🙂 Okay, no, I can’t share 50% of the profits from that, should that even happen. I’m 54 years old, a renter, with $1.54 in savings and several chronic and expensive medical conditions that will cost me $10,000 this year between premiums and out of pocket (down from $12.5k last year thanks to Obamacare!). I’m a gonna need that if I’m ever to, you know, retire or something. But the 50% of the book and audiobook royalties is a forever thing.