Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pulitzer Prize Nominated Author Velda Brotherton Writes about PTSD in Beyond the Moon

With Veterans Day upon us, Velda Brotherton's Pulitzer Prize nominated novel Beyond the Moon strikes a timely chord.

1985 - A wounded warrior home from nine years as a POW in Vietnam, a woman grief stricken over the loss of her husband. He touches her and she descends into his disturbed world where they wage a battle to bring him home from the horrors of that captivity. A love story you’ll never forget.

Diaries of men serving in wars as long ago as 1,000 years spoke of suffering from symptoms that match those we identify today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many Civil War soldiers returned suffering from what was then known as nostalgia or soldier's heart.  Because there was no treatment, some were sent to asylums, but most of these were closed down after the war. Veterans wandered the streets, many starved to death or froze because everyone thought they were crazy and dangerous and shunned them.

Sadly, many homeless veterans today suffer from this disorder. Not too long ago, these men were labeled as malingerers. As late as the 1980s not much was known about treatment. Then called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, these men often suffered the same fate as veterans of the Civil War.

In the past two decades, though, various treatments have been tried with some success. Victims are taught to identify what triggers their frightening flashbacks, which appear to propel them back to the killing fields of war. In their minds tall buildings can hide snipers, unusual loud noises are threatening, and dreadful nightmares bring back memories that appear to be stored in the brain forever.

Recent studies have helped define what goes on in the brain of someone affected by PTSD. Doctors are hesitant to “mess” with brain functions, but one study produces an interesting and hopeful step forward in the treatment of stress disorder.

While this disorder is more common among veterans returning from battle, people who undergo any type of traumatic experience can suffer from it as well. Because I've written several books where either the hero or a supporting character suffers from PTSD, I've done months of research and talked to veterans and their spouses about this disorder. It can be debilitating, can disrupt a person's life until they can no longer function well in society or in family life. Many who are effected distrust those around them and feel that no one can love them which can cause withdrawal from loved ones.

Often it can be five to ten years after the trauma before PTSD strikes. Some veterans and their families live with its effects for many years while others are able to somewhat control their upsetting reactions when they return to their previous lives.’

Imagine, if you can, turning the street corner in a quiet town, only to walk into a battlefield. Soldiers lie dying all around you, heat and explosions of mortar fire blasts from all directions. All senses go on alert. No matter how you might want to believe it isn't happening, it is, and you are caught up in the middle of it. Thrown back into a battle so vivid you are there.

During World War II this was referred to as shell shock or battle fatigue, and was misunderstood and seldom treated. Thankfully, today two treatments are found effective for most suffering from this disorder. Counseling and medication.

The best thing you can do if you know someone who suffers from PTSD is listen to what they have to say. Encourage them to talk to you about their feelings and experiences. You may not be a counselor who can suggest solutions, but you can listen with an open heart and mind and try to be supportive. Show that you care.

And don't forget to thank veterans for their service.

Have a question?
Symptoms and treatment for PTSD 


Beyond the Moon has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize nominated book in literary fiction. It is available now in Ebook and paper back. Hard cover coming soon.

Velda Brotherton writes “Sexy, Dark & Gritty” romance and love stories, both historical and more recently vintage novels, with an authenticity that makes her characters and stories ring true. She has been writing for nearly 30 years and enjoys doing research almost as much as writing. Tough heroines, strong heroes, villains to die for, come alive in her novels. Her background in journalism adds a wealth of experiences that lend to her storytelling.

Velda lives with her husband and writes from her home in the Ozarks of Arkansas. Contact her:

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