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May 31 , 2011

Hometown Heroes


Two events moved me to write this story. The first event occurred in the summer of 2011. That summer I was visiting the emergency room at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center (I had dropped a steel beam on my foot and wasn’t sure if I had broken anything, but that’s another story). While I was in the waiting room, a man came in and walked up to the reception counter, not 10 feet from where I sat. He pulled a pistol from the waistband of his shorts and pointed it at his head. A USAF staff sergeant had just come into the area behind the otherwise empty reception desk. He was shocked and tried to get the man to calm down. The man with the gun told the staff sergeant, “I have PTSD and can’t take it anymore.” Then the man with the gun pulled the trigger.
Fortunately, I think self-preservation kicked in at the last second and his hand wavered. The bullet missed his head by a fraction of an inch, and he was eventually talked out of committing suicide. I found out later that this wasn’t some kid just back from Iraq or Afghanistan—this was a senior soldier whose demons still haunted him.
I believe many Americans don't understand how prevalent injuries are among our returning warriors—both obvious injuries and ”hidden” injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) —or how devastating both the obvious and hidden injuries can be.
The second event that motivated me to write this story was a celebration we hold at the Dayton Dragons baseball field (Fifth Third Field). The Dragons are a Cincinnati Reds farm team, and the company I work for sponsors a pair of events, in coordination with the Dragons, to honor our military. During the game we welcome airmen returning from overseas, facilitate a video greeting from a deployed warrior to his family, and stand proud as a group of youngsters take their oath of enlistment. This, to me, is a very moving experience as the local community honors our heroes.
I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you are like me, and you get choked up when you hear the National Anthem or watch Old Glory pass by in a parade, I think you’ll love it.
I’m donating fifty percent of my revenue from this book to military-friendly charities. You can help me decide which charities to support. See how at the end of the book. I look forward to your input.
Joe G.

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