Foreword. This story was the idea of my proofreader, Michelle. During a conversation we were having one time I mentioned that while I was in the Gulf war I got "Any Soldier" mail, and loved it. It meant a lot to me and I spent hours answering some of it. She said that I should do a story about that, and about how the relationship between the person who sent such mail, and the soldier who got it, might go on after the war. I thought it was a good idea and put it in my projects folder.
So this fictional story is based on something that is actually true - I really did get and enjoy a lot of Any Soldier Mail. I also answered most of it. More bits of the truth are scattered through this story. Having been in the Army for many, many years, I am familiar with the kind of red tape that flourishes there. Both the mail and red tape have a lot to do with this story.
Other things in the story are purely fictional.
This is an important distinction, because some of the bits of "truth" in this story didn't necessarily happen to me. But they have happened to others, and that is very, very important to remember.
And that gets us to the part where I have to warn you that the prologue begins with some rough scenes. What happens to the protagonist is unhappy, violent and may cause some readers to want to stop reading. I ask you not to stop. Read the prologue anyway, even if you begin to feel a little squeamish. Thousands of young men have experienced it in person, and more young women than you might think. They expose themselves to this on your behalf. Whether you agree that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are legitimate or not, these people are willing to put themselves in harm's way so that you aren't. This story is dedicated to those young men and women who serve so selflessly.
And thanks to Michelle for a great idea. Even if she didn't think she was being serious when she suggested it.