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Wounded Warriors

Man Holding Purple Heart War MedalAre you holding out for a hero?  I know many of you are looking forward to a weekend of spooky delights, but it's worth remembering that Veteran's Day is less than two weeks away, on Nov. 11th.  In honor of our veterans, the romances I'm spotlighting this month all feature characters who have earned the title of "hero" or "heroine" -- wounded warriors who not only saw combat, but shed blood on the battlefield in service to their country.

It takes a special kind of person to be a soldier.  The job often entails long periods of boredom balanced with a constant situational awareness-- the need to be alert and aware of one's surroundings, ready to respond to threats at a moment's notice.  Action, when it happens, is hot, sudden, and violent.  War doesn't leave room for hesitation.  One bullet can end a life, or change it forever.  Soliders know the risks, and yet they go in anyway, just as they've been trained to.  They often see and experience things in war that civilians would be glad never to know.  They're trained to serve, to risk their lives, to kill... but once their service is done, learning how to be a civilian again can take just as much courage and discipline.

For some vets, the struggle doesn't end just because they've returned home.  It takes time to readjust to the mindset of "ordinary," to work through the memories of what they've experienced, to grieve comrades they've lost. Too many vets wage an internal battle with PTSD, thinking that requesting help would mean admitting to failure.  Physically disabled veterans are confronted with a different kind of struggle, dealing with the challenge of going back to their old lives with reduced mobility or facilities, adjusting to bodies that no longer perform the way they expect.  And yet they'll face that fight, too, because that's how they're made.

Of course, vets aren't the only ones who have to adjust to these changes-- so do the people who love them.  It's rough to see the vital, active men and women we knew return home moody and closed off, changed by experiences they don't want to talk about.  And how can they?  How does a former soldier share the very horrors he's been protecting his loved ones from?  Patient, loving support and acceptance at home can make the difference for some vets between a successful reintegration into civilian life, and getting lost in the darkness.  Whatever losses they've sustained on the battlefield, physical, mental, or emotional, they need to know that they'll always be 100% hero to the ones that love them.

If you don't know any vets yourself (and you may, without realizing it), maybe you're not quite sure what to do on Veteran's Day.  How do you say "thank you" to a total stranger who's risked him- or herself-- maybe even suffered a crippling loss-- on your behalf?  Honestly, just saying it is a start-- if you see someone in uniform or wearing a service-related ballcap, tell them "Thank you for your service."  If you want to be less of a stranger, ask them about their time in the military.  Maybe treat them to a cup of coffee, or lunch.

Want to do more?  If you know a disabled veteran, offer to help them out with a ride to a doctor's appointment, or chores around the house.  Think about supporting an organization that helps vets, such as the Wounded Warrior Project or Homes for Our Troops.  Try contacting the VFW, American Legion, or one of our local VA clinics for volunteer opportunities.  Military Avenue lists more ideas: 101 Ways to Thank a Veteran.  Right now, you've got two weeks to think about it.  With a little advanced planning, you have an opportunity to make Veteran's Day personally meaningful for you and your family, and maybe show a little love to a vet in the process.

And speaking of loving a veteran... (I know this is a U.S. holiday, but in the interest of including a few historicals to suit all tastes, I've included some veteran heroes from other countries, too):

Primal Force by D. D. Ayres (PbkRomance Ayres)
The Arrangement by Mary Balogh (PbkRomance Balogh)
The Longest Night by Kara Braden (PbkRomance Braden)
Infamous by Suzanne Brockmann (LP Brockmann)
The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane by Elizabeth Boyle (PbkRomance Boyle)
The Captive by Grace Burrowes (PbkRomance Burrowes)
When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare (PbkRomance Dare)
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (YA Demetrios)
Moondance Beach by Susan Donovan (PbkRomance Donovan)
Sweet on You by Laura Drake (PbkRomance Drake)
The Way Home by Cindy Gerard (Fiction Gerard)
Changeling Dawn by Dani Harper (PbkRomance Harper)
Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James (PbkRomance James)
Liberty by Ginger Jamison (PbkRomance Jamison)
Taking Fire by Lindsay McKenna (PbkRomance McKenna)
Return to Me by Kelly Moran (PbkRomance Moran)
Wyoming Fierce by Diana Palmer (PbkRomance Palmer)
A Hero To Come Home To by Marilyn Pappano (PbkRomance Pappano)
Chasing the Sun by Tracie Peterson (Fiction Peterson)
The Soldier's Lady by Michael Phillips (Fiction Phillips)
Bungalow Nights by Christie Ridgeway (PbkRomance Ridgway)
Lady Anne's Lover by Maggie Robinson (PbkRomance Robinson)
Back To You by Jessica Scott (PbkRomance Scott)
Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis (PbkRomance Shalvis)
Sweet Madness by Heather Snow (PbkRomance Snow)
A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin (PbkRomance Sundin)
Christmas in Snowflake Canyon by RaeAnne Thayne (PbkRomance Thayne)
Hard To Hold by Stephanie Tyler (PbkRomance Tyler)
My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren (PbkRomance Warren)
Madeleine's War by Peter Watson (ExpFiction Watson)

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