Suicide is a growing problem facing veterans. In 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a report showing that 22 veterans take their own lives every day, and statisticians suggest that number may be even higher. Kathleen Sales tackles the emotional causes of this trend, including homeless veterans, PTSD, and child abuse in military families, in her new novel, “Saving Superman” (published by iUniverse).
“A year ago, I ran into a young man at a small-town Laundromat in east Tennessee,” explains Sales. “He’d come back from Iraq several months before, and when I met him, he was homeless and hungry. That encounter made me realize how difficult it is, and has always been, for soldiers to adjust after war.”
Ten-year-old Pete is on the run. His family has been torn apart by the death of his brother and the behavior of his father, a World War II veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Before he has a chance to travel very far, a storm forces him to shelter in a dilapidated shack. Pete quickly discovers that he is not alone.
Jake has eked out a meager existence in the shed. A homeless veteran, he shares his shed with Pete, and it soon becomes apparent that Jake also suffers from PTSD. As the two learn more about each other, they form a very special bond and start along a path that leads to forgiveness and recovery.
“Saving Superman” illustrates many of the challenges that veterans and their families face. “It’s a strong, emotionally engaging story about growing up in a troubled family, which seeks help and is able to change,” says Sales. “It provides simple examples of a treatment approach that helps in their recovery.”