I was working on a new book, Grace’s Story, the third child of the couple in Twelve Days, when I needed to do some research, because I’m pretty sure Aidan, the hero, is a wounded Navy officer. (Characters don’t just tell me everything I need to know. You’d think that they would, but they don’t. Sometimes I think they like to torment me.)
So, yes, I think he’s a wounded Navy officer, but I’m not sure, even though I have about two hundred pages of the book. This is the life of a writer. And I want to hear some stories of wounded veterans, so I end up on the internet and stumble upon the blog of Karie Fugett, Wife of a Wounded Marine.
Her story is amazing, beginning in 2006 when she was only 20 years old, newly married, and her husband got blown up in Iraq. He survived, but what follows is an incredible, harrowing journey for her and her husband to try to get him healthy and whole again.
It was so compelling that I did something I’ve never done before — went back to very beginning of her blog and read the whole thing. Took me three days, between life and writing and everything else, but I had to know what happened. Research was completely forgotten, although I will say, reading her story definitely changed my hero. First thing I realized is — his situation is not that bad. Okay, it’s bad, but he will know there are people who are a whole lot worse off than he is.
You can read Karie’s story on her blog or, if you’re not ready to give it three days of your life, in one of a series of articles at the Huffington Post called Beyond the Battlefield, about issues facing veterans and their families. I was in awe of her courage, her honesty and even her humor in describing the years that followed for her and her husband, Cleve.