I admire writers who weave serious social issues into their fiction. Angela Kay Austin is one such writer. She shares with us her motivations for writing Derailed, which deals with the challenges of life after military service.
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Anne, thank you for inviting me to visit with you! I’m excited to share a little about my short story, Derailed.
Derailed is the second release in my tribute to military servicemen and women and their families. Within my own family, there is Navy and Army. Members of my family served in Vietnam and the Gulf War. But, neither Derailed nor Scarlet’s Tears deal with the act of war. They each deal with what I call the aftershocks of war.
Scarlet’s Tears dealt with how the loss of a husband affected an expecting mother. Derailed looks at war through the eyes of a single woman who because of a medical discharge finds herself living out of her car and jobless.
Although I was a member of JROTC, I never served in the military. But, as a woman, I guess I was always intrigued by the heroic handsome military man, think “An Officer and a Gentleman.” I don’t remember seeing the female equivalent of that movie, if you don’t include “Private Benjamin.”
A newscast about men and women serving in the military and after caught my attention. The broadcast discussed how often they face similar issues: alcoholism, drug addiction, joblessness, and more. But, something I’d never thought before was the why behind it. People will argue whether or not women have been in “combat” zones, but most of the issues facing men were attributed to “combat.” For women, because they weren’t technically in “combat” zones, their conditions were treated the same as men who had been in combat zones, but that wasn’t the cause of their problems. Women faced many of the same problems, but due to issues like: rape while on tour, or caring for children when they returned.
Watching the report, listening to the women’s stories, honestly, made me feel as if we may not be holding up our end of the bargain. We ask people to serve, and then when they return, we don’t take care of them.
We don’t provide the services they need. Why? We hold parades and rallies for Olympians, why don’t we do the same for servicemen and women? I’ve never been an Olympian nor served in the military, and I believe both should receive respect for their hard work and dedication. But, even though we can’t offer each veteran a million dollar contract to sell cereal, can’t we at least help them find a home, a job, and adequate medical care?
Derailed is my imagination of a homeless woman veteran who never gives up, and through her spirit she inspires others to not give up.
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You can learn more about Angela Kay Austin at her website.
You can purchase Derailed on Amazon.