Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why I Wrote VETS...

Quite simply, I wrote VETS because I was appalled by the levels of suicide, homelessness, joblessness, hunger, and mental illness among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the tepid response, sometimes downright negative response, of both government and citizenry, to their plight. Most people think if they slap on a “We Support Our Troops” bumper sticker, or hang a flag out on the porch, or put a flag pin on their lapel, or say “Thank you for your service,” we’ve done enough.

I don’t like sending people to war, but if we do, we have a responsibility to take care of them when they come home!

I don’t have the credentials or credibility to write non-fiction about the problems of veterans. But I’m a pretty good story teller, so I thought I could make a case for the veterans in a novel.

The good folks at Black Opal Books [BOB] agreed, and so they published VETS. It’s available at your local book store or through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, KOBO, the BOB website, and anyplace else that handles books [except maybe Walmart, and they’re working on that].

The first responsibility of a novelist is to tell a good story. I have tried to do that with Joe Kirk and the others on that bus to nowhere. Here is the synopsis of the novel…

They called them heroes. They said, “Thank you for your service.” Then they forgot about them. Joe Kirk lost a leg. Lonnie Blifield lost his eyes. Victoria Roundtree lost her skin. “Zan” Zander lost his mind. Four homeless and hopeless Iraqistan VETS who accidentally end up living together on an old school bus. With nowhere to go, and nothing else to do, they lurch from one VAMC [Veterans Administration Medical Center] to another, hoping for help but getting none because, like thousands of other Iraqistan VETS who are homeless, unemployed, and suicidal, they no longer trust the system and refuse to “come inside.” After another fruitless stop, at the VAMC in Iron Mountain, Michigan, a doctor is found dead, and the VETS are accused of his murder. Distrustful, strangers to America, to each other, and even to themselves, they must become a unit to learn who really murdered the doctor, so that they can be free. In doing so, they uncover far more, about themselves and about their country, than they dared even to imagine.

VETS, John Robert McFarland, Black Opal Books, 2015.

The paperback is $8.49 or $12.99, according to what site you look at, and the electronic version is $3.99. I know the price is not prohibitive, but if you can get your library to buy a copy, you can read it for free!

Should you need the ISBN for ordering from an independent store, the print version ISBN is 9781626943131 and ISBN for electronic version is 9781626943124.

As I said, I believe I’m a pretty good story teller. I also know that I am not a very good marketer, especially in this digital and social media age. So I’m depending on my friends to do the publicity for me. Would you tell your friends, and even your enemies, about VETS, please?

If you’d like to write a review for Amazon or Goodreads, etc, good or bad, that would be nice.

Thank you.
John Robert McFarland

Reader alert: Some of the characters in the book [certainly not the author] say bad words.

One simple thing anyone who wants to support veterans can do is click each day on  They don’t ask for a credit card. You don’t have to log in. It does not cost anything. Sponsors provide meals for homeless, hungry veterans for each click.

I am not an Iraqistan veteran. Not many who are vets have written fiction from their experiences. Two who have are Phil Klay and Elliott Ackerman. I recommend them if you want a fictional account from someone who served in those places.

My profit from the book will go to helping homeless veterans, directly and through organizations.

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