CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — John Brown lives a quiet, retired life in downtown Charleston after a long career in food writing and public relations.
He’s far from Chu Lai, the Vietnamese town he was stationed in for a year when he was 23, but he still thinks about it.
“I have a dream once or twice a year that at my age I have to go to Vietnam and I’m thinking ‘but why? what?…'”John Brown, author
Brown, who is half Italian, wrote a semi-autobiographical account of his experience through the character of Augie in Augie’s War.
In the novel, Augie relies heavily on his memories of West Virginia and his tight-knit Italian-American family back home to cope, much like Brown did.
And while his first novel deals with enduring the war, his second novel Augie’s World deals with enduring life after the war.
He dedicated it to veterans of all wars who have experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The dedication reads: “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD has been following warriors throughout history but it has only been designated as a true medical condition since 1980.”
“You know up to that time they had the World War II guys coming back they had ‘shell shock’, you know they use these terms that kind of made you feel like you were a coward a lot of times.”
Almost 60,000 American soldiers died during the Vietnam war and Brown says those who didn’t still carry some form of scarring.
A common theme for many modern veterans assigned to multiple deployments.
“The difference is some of these kids go two, three, four times. I cannot imagine doing that,” he said.
I think that the emotional toll not only of the physical but the emotional toll and the psychological toll of these Afghanistan and Iraq veterans are tremendous.”
Brown says if there’s a message in his books, it’s how terrible war and its effects are, and how important having a loving, supportive family is to returning soldiers.