The Private War of Corporal Henson
by E. Michael Helms
My rating: 5 stars
Publication Date: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Stairway Press
Genre: Adult Military Fiction
Print Length: 259 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Vietnam didn’t stay in Southeast Asia. It followed former U.S. Marine
Corporal Nathan Henson back to the World—his hometown in the Florida
panhandle. Seventeen years later, specters from ’Nam still haunt the
corners of Nathan’s life and the recurring nightmarish scenes of carnage
won’t die. Desperate, he seeks help and joins a support group for
Vietnam combat veterans.
Now a new war begins—against Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In a
series of gut-wrenching sessions, Nathan faces the ghosts of his past
and shares the struggles of others as they confront and relive horrors
and dark secrets kept locked inside.
There’s Vic Guerino, a former Army helicopter pilot trying to adjust
to the boredom of a grounded life, Dan “Doc” Matthews, wrestling with
addiction brought home from the battlefields of Vietnam, and Rene
Boudreaux, the loner who withdraws from society with paranoia ruling his
every waking moment.
Nathan must conquer the demons of PTSD to win peace in his life, but
it’s a harrowing rollercoaster ride through the valley of healing. The
path is strewn with heartbreak and humor, hope and despair and love lost
This is the comeback story of a heroic young man who saw it all,
lived through it, and ultimately emerged from the shadows of war.
The Private War of Corporal Henson by E. Michael Helms
Once again, E. Michael Helms has rocked me to my knees with his words. The Private War of Corporal Henson follows a young soldier returning from Vietnam, to the unwelcoming arms of the country he swore to serve with his life. He may no longer be on the battlefield, but the trauma his heart and mind underwent is still burning through him, neatly labled PTSD. How does a man deal with the horrors of war, the loss of friends, and the guilt of surviving when he no longer fits in the civilian world he has returned to? Tortured by nightmares and flashbacks, Nathan Henson finds a common ground and a brotherhood in a group of vets also struggling to find a way to cope. Together they form a bond where brother can lean on brother, where it is okay to cry, to laugh and to remember. Their group is a safe zone for their darkest horrors. But will it be enough to overcome the soul haunting guilt?
Years have passed and still Nathan Henson suffers as he refuses to give up on healing. When those he thought were strong falter, where will he find the strength to hang on? Nathan seeks to fill the void in his heart that even his “brothers” can’t fill, giving him hope and terrifying him at the same time. Is Nathan worthy of love? Is he able to give it or will he lose his tenuous hold on his demons and push away a second chance at life and love?
E. Michael Helms writes from the heart, from experiences he can relate to and has lived. With each page, the suffering of these men comes to life in an up close way as the brutal truth of their abandonment and lack of understanding from the country they served fails to give them more than a band-aid for their gaping wounds. For me, it was terrifying to be in the mind of Nathan Henson, to know that so many are still prisoners of a war that ended long ago and few are able to find escape. E. Michael Helms reminds us that time cannot always heal all wounds when they become entangled in an evil so vile, despicable and unthinkable. We can read about it, watch someone we know try to “deal” with PTSD, but only one who has come through that hell can truly understand. With his amazing gift for writing, Mr. Helms has once again created characters that come to life with a realism that will clutch at your heart and burrow deep into your soul. He has taken a dark topic, and remembered to light a candle of hope for his main character, as well as those who got to know Nathan, signature Helms writing, powerful magnetic.