1. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    Assistance with a military character

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Flashfire07, Nov 18, 2011.

    For my most recent story project I'm writing about an ex-soldier with PTSD. He's approximately 46 years old and left the military at the age of 40. I'm struggling with what conflicts to have him fought in. I was thinking about using the Gulf War but due to the recent/ongoing conflict in the Middle East I decided not to do so as to avoid controversy. So, does anyone have any suggestions for conflicts that he would have fought in?
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is controversy so bad?

    Google "United States military history timeline" and you'll find a huge list of operations, from one time drug-related ops to major involvements. Of course, you'll need to work with the time span between the operation you choose and the guy's present day PTSD.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good advice... mine is to follow it!
     
  4. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    To me? Yes. I don't write to cause controversy, my stories cause enough trouble what with some of the plot focusing on a relationship with a much younger man and other troublesome plot elements without my views on the military being a point of contention.

    I don't know why things like that never occur to me. Thanks for that.
     
  5. muscle979
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    muscle979 Member

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    Make sure if you use some operation or conflict that you find on the internet that it is consistent with your character's service. You just say he's 'an ex-soldier'. That's very vague. His occupational specialty and the type of units he served in are going to have an impact on what conflicts or operations he may have been involved in. For instance if he's just some guy [i.e. not SF,Ranger,SEAL, etc.] then it's extremely unlikely he was fighting warlords in Mogadishu. If you're not willing to involve him with a mideast conflict then it looks like you're knocking out a ton of options. There's only so much our military has done outside of the middle east in the past 20 years. Assuming the story is set at present time his retirement would have come in 2005. That's plenty of time for him to have been involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Afghanistan.
     
  6. Vaalthurion
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    Vaalthurion Member

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    While I lack the details surrounding your work, I don't see why the characters association with the modern conflicts would cause controversy. On the contrary, I think it would provide the reader something they can relate to, as they would likely be more familiar with OEF or OIF than even the Gulf War or other less publicized conflicts in between.

    If you still don't want to use the ongoing conflicts in this generation, I would suggest inventing a Black Ops mission your character had been a part of. The reader would find his past believable even if you made it up, since the whole idea of black ops is to be 'unknown'. This would also provide you the opportunity to make his past as 'bloody' as you need it to be, since the combat, regardless of severity, would never be known to the public.

    I also agree with muscle979 in having a set branch of the military for this character established, as well as his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). Here (http://www.kevinwebb22.com/uncategorized/marine-corps-mos-list-marine-corps-jobs) is a link to the Marine Corp's list of MOS's - everything from Infantry to Legal Specialist to Intelligence to Aircraft Mechanic.

    If you haven't already, I would like to point out that rank is also VERY important. Don't have a Colonel or General doing grunt infantry work. It doesn't happen now and hasn't really happened since the Roman Empire. Just make sure your characters rank fits his respective job description.

    Being former USMC, I'd be more than happy to lend any other 'military' advice if you'd like to PM me.
     
  7. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    PTSD can be caused by any traumatic event,
    Oklahoma city bomb survivors, 911 survivors, drive-by shootings can all cause PTSD in civilians.

    Any hostile event in the military can cause it, not just war time.

    Are you open any period of time? If you leave out the middle east, military(war) involvement is very limited(except for terror incidents),
    I agree with the others, don't leave it a generic GI joe. Study the job that your mc did, so you can relate PTSD symptoms to events, rather then just tossing in a symptom here, or another there. The mind is complex, but most often the symptoms are not just random.


    My advice: Study the job and definately study up on PTSD.

    I support using writing on the subject of PTSD to educate the people, PTSD is devestating to anyone with it,
    what you write may click with the sufferer or a family member, and offer them hope. Maybe even include real life
    people to talk too?
    And IMO don't make it a happily ever after ending, make it realistic.
     
  8. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    I plan to get as many details correct as possible, this is the first time I've written a military character in a realistic fashion and I intend to do my best to create a believable character. I've been researching PTSD for a while. I'm not confident on the details but I often start the research months or even years before I begin writing.

    I might have to do this, I'm struggling to find a suitable conflict as most of the combat operations I've seen are aerial bombardment. I'm going to write him as an SAS member, simply because I have a few books and other resources written by SAS members. Thanks for the help so far on this, it's really helped me form a better picture of the character.
     

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