Veterans hold a truly special place in my heart. My grandfather was an Army veteran of WWI and a Navy veteran of WWII. My father was an Air Force veteran. My husband is an Army Viet Nam veteran, and my son is a Navy, OEF/OIF veteran who served two tours in Iraq, one on assignment to the Army. For over 20 years, I worked as a clinical social worker at four different VA Medical Centers with veterans and their families.
I feel so much respect for veterans. They all make many sacrifices for our country, most of which go unnoticed, and I wanted to honor them by including a veteran in one of my books.
Conn Ahern, one of the main characters of Witch Trial Legacy grew out of that aspiration. He’s a true hero left with physical and mental scars from Iraq.
While veterans are capable and courageous, some things are beyond anyone’s ability to handle without help. I wanted to spotlight a few major hurdles wounded warriors may experience and call attention to the VA, an incredible resource for veterans, not only for war related issues, but for all their medical treatment. I hope anyone who reads this book will urge the veterans they know to seek care from the top-notch professionals there.
Here’s a little about Conn in his own words.
While I was in the sandbox, my girlfriend sent me a letter breaking up with me. Then, she married my best friend from high school, the dick.
I sustained injuries when an IED blew up the vehicle I was in which left me struggling with chronic back spasms and nightmares. I can’t understand why I came home when my buddy got shipped back in a box.
My father wanted me to follow in his footsteps with a career in law, but I couldn’t stand the idea of being cooped up inside all day.
Plus, I was racking up traffic tickets because cops don’t understand why you have to swerve all over the road to avoid a piece of trash or drive a hundred miles an hour to get out of range when the back of your neck starts to prickle.
So, I became a paramedic. The job gives me the rush I need to feel alive, and it helps people whose lives depend on me.
However, I don’t have much to do with my family, even my mother. She’s so involved with my brother-the-doctor’s kids that she doesn’t have time for anyone else.
I moved to my grandmother’s ranch outside of Cassadaga, Florida and got a job with EMS. Unfortunately, Gran sunk all her money into a medium aka scam artist there who claimed to contact my grandfather on the other side. Soon, she was in debt up to her ears and had mortgaged the property to the hilt. Gran died not long ago, and I miss her every day.
I took over her place and paid off everything she owed, but it pretty much wiped me out, and I scramble to keep things going. My salary isn’t enough to meet expenses, so I also raise cattle. That brings in some income, but between the two jobs and my back trouble, I can barely make it through the day. Lucky for me I have a wonderful best friend, Tucker, a Shepherd Terrier mutt who I brought home from the local shelter. He was the ugliest pup in the bunch, but he snagged me with his sweet brown eyes, and I couldn’t walk away. Now he has my six when I hit the sack.
Since I got off pills, I drink Jameson to function during my shift, to sleep when I’m off, and to forget about all my worries. If I’m honest, the alcohol might be a problem, but opiates take you to a place I never want to go. I’ve seen too many O.D.’s in my line of work. This is a somewhat better choice.
All I want is to maintain the ranch and keep my job so I can help people. I don’t want any emotional entanglements, especially not with a stuck-up, judgmental nurse who tries to boss me around and thinks the Cassadaga medium (the same one who bilked Gran out of her life savings) holds the answers to her problems. Oh, hell, no.
I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into Conn. He’s a strong, amazing man, who knows what he wants, although maybe not what he needs. I absolutely love him because he embodies so many of the great qualities I admire about veterans: their work ethic, sense of honor, and loyalty.
Though he has many admirable traits, he’s not perfect. He’s blunt and cynical regarding the residents of Cassadaga and Spiritualism; he doesn’t hold back with his opinions; and he still has battles to fight before he heals.
He’s not the man for a fragile, fainting flower. But for a smart, tough woman who won’t give up on him? Oh, hell, yes!
A salute to our nation’s veterans on this 2021 Veteran’s Day!