Why I wrote the JOURNEY HOME SERIES

Why I wrote the JOURNEY HOME SERIES: Back in 1990-91, a US military operation called Desert Storm took place in the Middle East. Not long afterward, the veterans involved returned home with invisible scars that later became known as PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The heartbreaking stories about the men and women who couldn’t keep jobs or relationships soon became a regular feature on the nightly news. The shocking numbers of veteran suicides have increased over the years.

I write historical fiction and wanted to know how Civil War veterans who suffered with the same symptoms of PTSD were treated. Nineteenth century doctors diagnosed those afflicted with the condition as Soldier’s Fatigue. They offered bed rest in a soldier’s convalescent home, or recommended a discharge and a train ticket home. Often the soldier had a note pinned to his uniform, giving his name and destination, because he was incapable of communicating. Let the veteran’s family deal with the troubled man. If the family couldn’t handle their loved one, suffering acute mania, for instance, then the Government Hospital for the Insane in Washington, D.C. (St. Elizabeth’s) was the destination. Two cemeteries on the grounds of St. Elizabeth hold hundreds of Civil War soldier’s remains today.

diane-kalas-andersonville-2As my story ideas came together, I especially wanted to write my heroes as strong Christians and show how they dealt with the horrors of Andersonville Prison for Union soldiers. Perhaps a 21st century veteran’s spouse, mother, sister, or girlfriend will read PATRIOT HEART, FAITHFUL HEART, AND HOPEFUL HEART and see there is hope for their loved one. Hope for the future in God, the Father, and salvation through Jesus Christ, His son.

diane-kalas-andersonville-1HOPEFUL HEART is the last story in my 3-book Journey Home Series. The series is about three Civil War POWs who met in the infamous Andersonville Prison for Union soldiers and survive because of their friendship and Christian faith. Each book features one of the memorable heroes and a unique heroine that’s perfect for him.

HOPEFUL HEART, Journey Home Series 3

An inspirational historical romance set in the West

Pennsylvania. November 1866 –Lucy Garner is a recent widow who just buried her stillborn. Grieving the loss of two people she loved the most in her world, she decides to journey out West and escape her adopted father’s stepson whose intentions strike terror into her being. She goes to work for a difficult and unprepared family, headed to Oregon by wagon train.

diane-kalas-hopeful%20heart%20coverMissouri. November 1866 – Nat Renshaw’s boyish good looks disguise his intense personality.

Before the war, his cheating wife died and he gave up on marriage. He joined the Union Army and became a Confederate POW with enough anger to power a locomotive. These events did not improve his outlook on life. Since the war ended, he’s elected sheriff for a river town.

Oregon Trail. March 1867 – Lucy’s arresting features and gentle spirit attract Nat Renshaw’s unwanted interest as he scouts for Lucy’s wagon train. Lucy’s distrustful of Nat’s determination for romance, but ends up admiring his courage and faith in God. Can Lucy open her heart for another chance at love amid the trials of the Oregon Trail?

HAVE YOU EVER VISITED A VETERAN’S GRAVE? LEAVE A COMMENT TO ENTER A DRAWING FOR ONE COPY OF HOPEFUL HEART (PRINT OR EBOOK!)

E-book available now: https://www.amazon.com/Diane-Kalas/e/B01LONESZE?tag=pettpist-20

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24 Comments

  1. Thank you for your interesting post. We have visited many battlefields and cemeteries. Arlington National Cemetery was a very moving sight.

    1. I’ve also visited several battlefield cemeteries in the US and overseas. Emotions run high for me, especially after all the research I’ve done concerning our Civil War. Thank you for leaving a comment.

  2. I have been to many. I visited Arlington many times.

    1. As I visit military or battlefield cemeteries, I brace for my emotional reaction to seeing the numbers of graves. That experience doesn’t get easier. Thank you for leaving a comment.

  3. I want to thank Karen Witemeyer for inviting me to guest on Petticoats and Pistols blog. What a wonderful opportunity to reach fellow readers of western fiction. Terrific group of published authors as hosts.

  4. I have never been to a military cemetery.
    I have visited individual veterans graves.

    1. At this time of year, Arlington National Cemetery has an organization of volunteers who place wreaths on every grave. The red bows on the evergreens rest against the headstones. When it snows the scene is most memorable. Thank you for leaving a comment.

  5. I haven’t had the chance to visit any veteran’s cemeteries. My niece’s husband suffered PTSD and they didn’t let anyone know about it until he took his life a couple years ago. It was a shock to everyone. They had only been married a year and their daughter wasn’t even a year old at the time.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about this tragedy in your family. There shouldn’t be any embarrassment about PTSD. Perhaps, your niece didn’t realize how many TV programs have covered the vet’s medical/mental issues. PBS has a wonderfully informing series about the brain, shown during their fund-raising periods. My heart goes out to your niece and her daughter. May God give them peace. Thank you for leaving a comment.

      1. Thank you! I often wonder if she knew how bad he really was.

        1. It’s possible she didn’t know the depth of his despair and had a lot of distractions with a young daughter. So sad.

  6. I have only been to one and it was when my dad passed away. It was Camp Nelson National Cemetery. My father wanted to be placed there. It is beautiful place.

    1. When my dad died in May 2009, we requested TAPS as the casket was removed from the chapel at the cemetery. When I saw the bugler in uniform waiting outside, the tears rolled. That honor guard was an honor we wanted to do for our dad who served in the US Army during WWII. Thank you for leaving a comment.

  7. I’ve been to Arlington twice and it just leaves you stunned! Also I have veterans in my family who have passed.

    1. Stunned is the word for military cemeteries. Our country is defended by a small number of professionals and required to give so much. The hardships are multiple. May God bless our military as we begin another year without peace at home and abroad. Thank you for leaving a comment.

  8. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Diane. I am eager to read this series and know I will be uplifted by it just from the blurbs. I visited an American military cemetery in Luxembourg,.it was Memorial Day and absolutely heartbreaking. Gettysburg still gets me weepy. It started to rain, and I was sure it was tears. And Arlington took my breath away. Stunning. I thank God for the brave men and women who sacrificed all to keep us free, and to those who live among us. God bless them and ease their memories and hearts.

    1. I visited Gettysburg also for a future book. I did the research ahead and knew about the third day of battle, an all-out infantry hand-to-hand fight. While my husband and I were standing across the Emmetsburg Rd and I explained where the opposing armies were – along came a 20th century farmer on his huge tracker, plowing the very field where thousands had died! We were stunned. Back and forth he went in his air conditioned cab, making even rows. Obviously that part of the battlefield was in private hands. I’m glad someone didn’t put up an apartment bldg. Yes, thank you God for men and women who volunteer for the military. Thank you, Tanya, for commenting.

  9. I have visited many veteran graves over the years and continue to do so. My husband’s father is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and we attended a funeral there in September for a friend’s husband. We are both Red Cross Service To The Armed Forces volunteers. We have 2 National Cemeteries in towns near us. We have participated in ceremonies at them and have one coming up. This Friday, Dec. 16, the names of those buried at the Mountain Home National Cemetery, TN will be read starting at 6 AM and continue until all are read, likely 5 PM. We will each read names and the Red Cross will provide coffee and donuts. We also participate in the Wreathes Across America Program and will place one on a friends grave that day. The following day, wreaths will be placed on as many of the remaining graves as we have wreaths for. When we travel, we visit historic sites many of which are soldier cemeteries. We have been to the Andersonville National Cemetery for a friend’s funeral, who was buried there afterwards. Unfortunately we did not have time then to visit the National Park. We are planning a trip back

    The name for PTSD has changed over the years – Shell Shock, Battle Fatigue, Soldier Fatigue, and another Civi War era name that touches my heart, Soldier’s Heart. Whatever it is called and no matter how severe it is, these veterans deserve our support and help to deal with it. The service/companion dog program is one that should be supported. Training the dog is costly, but they are such a big help to the veterans. Check with local Veterans groups to see if there is a program in your area to raise funds to supply a dog for a veteran suffering from PTSD.

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and great New Year.

    1. How rewarding it must be to volunteer for the Red Cross. I congratulate you and your husband for your service to a fine organization. I think the Wreathes Across America Program is fantastic. Thank you for the information.

      The photos on this blog post of the monument and rows of old headstones was taken by me at the Andersonville Prison site in southwestern Georgia. It was a beautiful November day and no one was around. Gave me time to recall what happened there. At that time, the Nat’l Park hadn’t built a tourist bldg. or the front gate. Clara Barton was asked by our government to oversea the organization of the cemetery, order grave markers, and notify the families of those buried there. A prisoner named, Private Dorence Atwater kept a list of those who died and passed it on to Ms. Barton. Incredible that he was able to accomplished that task under the circumstances. Researching Andersonville was difficult, especially viewing the photos of the skeletal survivors.

      Thank you for commenting and sharing your interesting work with the Red Cross. I appreciate your informing everyone about the service/companion dog program also. May God bless you and your husband’s efforts on behalf of our military. Merry Christmas and happy New Year.

      1. Thank you for the information on the connection between Andersonville and Clara Barton. I had no idea. We are hoping to get there this year. It will be a difficult visit. It is a wonderful testament to those who died and suffered there, but so very sad.

  10. Yes, I have visited veteran’s graves. My dad’s grave and I have visited quite a few Civil War cemeteries and have always been in awe and reverence. Thank you for your post.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    1. I’m glad to hear people say they have visited veteran’s graves, especially on Memorial Day. We shouldn’t forget their sacrifice. Thank you, Cindy, for leaving a comment. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  11. Yes Rock Island Between Iowa And Illinois has a military cemetary for confederate soldiers been there a couple of times the union soldiers were moved to a bigger cemetary on the island. Humbling experience to see so many who did not die in battle but from disease and hunger.

    1. That’s the most heartbreaking of statistics to me. Soldiers died while being held in captivity – by fellow Americans. Civil War is the worst. No excuse is acceptable. Thank you, Kim, for your comments. I appreciate reading about Rock Island. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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