Military Sexual Trauma; A Letter from Laurell
I wrote a novel titled VET-ONATION (Veteran's Detonation) which discusses relationships, service in Iraq, military sexual trauma, self-destruction, mental health, and recovery from a female veteran's perspective. It is an excellent book for women and female veterans who have struggled with several aspects of service, including addressing sexual assault and mental health.
I was prompted to write VET-ONATION because of a personal goal I’d set for myself. In May 2016, I began writing. I wrote several chapters but had to put the book on hold due to my late husband’s illness. He passed away on April 1, 2017. Afterward, I took some time to re-evaluate my life moving forward as a widow and single mother of three. Then I took a deep breath and recommenced writing. I did not want to write a book about war. It has been done. I’ve read several. In my opinion, war is not something that should ever be glorified. In many of these types of novels, it is. War is a misogynistic and challenging endeavor. War changes a person dramatically. I wanted to address the internal aspect of war. I wanted to provide a narrative women could relate to in this book.
In addition to my experiences as a Public Affairs Broadcast Specialist serving in a war zone, I am also a survivor of a military sexual trauma (MST) which took place in Baghdad, Iraq in 2005. I chose to remain a silent survivor for many years due to shame much to the dismay of my sanity and the demise of a couple of relationships. That choice almost destroyed me. Even after I disclosed the event through the proper channels, this information was on a need to know basis as far as I was concerned. I've now written a book which discusses sexual assault. Unfortunately, I erroneously thought I would be able to skirt the issue and not address my own experience. I was wrong. It's difficult to talk about something you've kept a secret for so long. Since VET-ONATION's release, I have had a lot of tough, anxiety-inducing, emotionally exhausting conversations. I'm still working through the lasting effects of MST within myself. I hope others who have been affected by sexual assault will read VET-ONATION and be inspired to continue working on their recovery as well.
Although the protagonist, Lauren Mayer, is a veteran, she's still just an average woman struggling with her journey. She faces many tests along the way. While she doesn't navigate them all well, she's determined to confront her failures and overcome her obstacles. Her life is a tangled mess of romance, sweet memories, painful moments, and regrets. Lauren's strength demonstrates what's possible when we shine a light on our demons and embrace the changes in ourselves.
VET-ONATION is a fictional story. I wrote it with the hope that the protagonist would resonate with any woman who has struggled with a life-changing event and difficult circumstances. It is a book that is close to my heart.