1. What inspired you to write this book?
The book was written as a way to continue my own process of healing from the events detailed in the book - namely the suicide of my assistant - and as a means of helping others who have been through similar events, but felt very alone without others who understood the pain.
2. Summarize your book in one to three sentences.
Unvalidated Pain is about my tour to Iraq and the relationship between myself and SPC Green as chaplain and assistant, and details the loss of my assistant through suicide. It also shares how his suicide effected me, and my own journey toward recovery from that event.
3. What is the overall theme of your book?
It is intended to be one of hope, in terms of sharing the incredible pain that one goes through because of another’s suicide, yet that others have been there and not only survived, but allowed it to move them in a direction of helping others.
4. Why do you think that this book will appeal to readers?
A majority of the American population, while not a part of the military, have heard about the staggeringly high rate of suicide in the military, yet have not been personally affected by it, nor understood it. This is a first hand account of one of those many suicides and will hopefully allow people to see beyond the statistics and see a person and the many who are affected by military suicide. At the same time, for others, it will touch their own story and allow them to feel comfort in knowing they are not alone. Furthermore, for those who work with the military community, or make policies for the military, it will appeal to their desire to better understand the effects of military suicide.
5. How is your book relevant in today’s society?
The active-duty Army suicide rate has been higher than civilian suicide rates since 2008 (the year I lost my assistant), and while it leveled off during 2010 and 2011, by the middle of 2012, there was an average of one suicide a day. Everyone is interested in lowering the number of those lost by their own hand.
6. What makes your book different from other books like it?
There is at least one book out there that provides statistics about military suicide, and theories about how to prevent it, and at least one that shares stories about British military members who have committed suicide. However, I have yet to find a book that shares a first hand account of the effects of a military suicide from a survivor’s perspective.
7. What do you want readers to take away from your writing?
There are several things I hope a reader will take away from this book: 1) that recovery from another’s suicide is hard, and very often a life-long process, yet it can be done; 2) that the statistics don’t tell the whole story about military suicides - in fact, the number of suicides are higher, as many are still labeled as “non-combat related deaths” that are never categorized; 3) that every suicide is different which means there is no one, or even a dozen, answers on how to prevent them; 4) that the suicide briefs military members go through are sometimes more harmful than helpful, as they leave a survivor feeling that the suicide was his/her fault because s/he did not prevent it.