Veterans' Affairs

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Pub Date 10 Mar 2016 | Archive Date 18 Jul 2016


Joey Sullivan, a veteran of the Iraq War, just got his nursing degree and is ready to start working with vets at a local hospital. Things go wrong from day one, however, as he's contacted by the spirits of dying vets who torment him in his dreams with memories of their horrific war experiences. The spirits won't leave Joey alone until he agrees to help them check off the last items on their bucket lists. In the meantime Joey continues to struggle with his own memories of war, grappling with the aftermath of that fateful day when his friend triggered a bomb that blasted him to bits, and gave Joey a traumatic brain injury that might be responsible for the second sight that lets him commune with the spirits of the dying vets.

War may be hell, but things only get worse when you get home.

Joey Sullivan, a veteran of the Iraq War, just got his nursing degree and is ready to start working with vets at a local hospital. Things go wrong from day one, however, as he's contacted by the...

Advance Praise

“Mr. Hirsch is a writer of uncommon talent.” –Tom Kakonis, award-winning author of Criss Cross and Treasure Coast

“Joseph Hirsch is scary good.” – Jed Ayres, author of Peckerwood

“One of my favorite writers currently working.” –Scott Phillips, author of the national bestseller, The Ice Harvest

I'm not a huge one for fantasy for the most part, but I do enjoy it from time to time…and I really dug this one. Seriously nice stuff, easily convinced me to read the kind of story I normally don't choose to read.” –David S. Atkinson, author of Not Quite so Stories

"The Bastard's Grimoire immediately draws the reader into a pseudo-realistic middle-ages Germany, so vivid, that even the fantasy elements earn their place in history. Hirsch taps into all the senses with his unabashed descriptions and writing style. The story is chock full of historic and literary merit, but first and foremost it is a fun, colorful, and erotic adventure 'down the Mosel'.” –Tina Amiri, Whatever The Impulse

“Mr. Hirsch is a writer of uncommon talent.” –Tom Kakonis, award-winning author of Criss Cross and Treasure Coast

“Joseph Hirsch is scary good.” – Jed Ayres, author of Peckerwood

“One of my favorite...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781612966663
PRICE $16.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 8 members

Featured Reviews

A strange and intriguing premise: Nurse Joseph Sullivan receives a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq, and is now able to tap into his patients''thoughts, even though he would prefer not to; he is transported back to Vietnam and to Japan to experience what these men did while they were in the military. I could see this book being transformed into a film, though I got the feeling that the story was unfinished, and there was more to tell.

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Incredible novel.. Joe, returning from his tour in Iraq is physically and psychologically traumatized. He finishes his schooling and begins his career as an R.N. in the VA Hospital. His TBI makes him an unwilling conduit for some of his Veteran patients. Told in the first person, it's a gritty sometimes painfully funny, work of art.

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Simply Brilliant! This is such an interesting and unique story. Joseph Hirsch has done a great job with not only the storyline, but the Characters as well. Joey Sullivan is a bit of a mess after surviving a bomb blast in Iraq. You know his hearts in the right place, and he’s trying to be normal, but that’s why he’s so easy to like. If I was having dreams like Joey is having, I don’t think I would want to go to sleep. His dreams of his tour in Iraq are bad enough, but when he starts to look after a Vietnam Vet, and a WWII Veteran in the VA Hospital, he begins to dream of both their wars as well. Joey is already doing it tough with popping a combination of pills just to get to sleep, but no amount of pills is going to stop these dreams. He has two chiropractors, a wellness coach, and a counselor all trying to keep him in one piece. It really shows though that war is hell, and there are atrocities occurring, no matter which war it is. This is a very clever book, and I’m certainly going to keep an eye out for this Authors books in the future.

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Joey Sullivan, RN...with a multitude of problems

Joey Sullivan fought in Iraq and was sent home with a mild TBI (traumatic brain injury) after a bomb exploded near him and killed a friend of his.

After he got tired sitting around getting disability benefits, he went to school and became a Registered Nurse.

He's an average guy, overweight, on a multitude of painkillers, tranquilizers and more and he loves his dog Tiffany.

He now works at the VA hospital and starts being haunted by other veteran's war experiences...and the haunting will continue unless he helps them finish tasks that tie back into their war experiences.

I loved this book and the character of Joey. This is definitely a crazy, mixed-up look at returning vets, PTSD, and all the horrors they have gone through on the battlefields.

Gruesome in spots but it definitely felt possible. If you are shocked easily, this might not be the tale for you. But if you want to read about war, paranormal experiences, or just read a wacky good book, try this one out.

Oh, and the way the book ended, this might be the first in a series.

I received this book from Black Rose Writing through Net Galley in exchange for my unbiased review.

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Joey Sullivan not only brought home a debilitating case of PTSD from Iraq, he also brought home something else. The ability to converse with the spirits of dying veterans. They haunt his dreams and will not leave him alone until he agrees to grant them favors that they can't do for themselves.

What seemed like a very promising premise turned into a sometimes painful and tedious ordeal. Hirsch knows his stuff. There's no doubt. He's a veteran himself and it comes out in his story. Sometimes it comes out too much. In the beginning, the language and lingo was authentic and refreshing. It soon transformed from being refreshing to feeling like you were reading an army field manual. He did the same thing when he had Joey describe his life as a nurse. Using extensive medical terminology can enhance a story. When you use it so much with very little explanation for the lay-person that doesn't know what all of the terminology means, it comes across as you're not in touch with your audience and you're simply showing off how much you know. It's really too bad. Hirsch showed flashes of some good writing ability. He had some decent characters in there, but Veteran's Affairs had way too little happening and too many long stretches where it felt like you were reading either an Army field manual or a medical Tabers dictionary.

2 1/2 Freeloading Spirits out of 5

This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I'm not really sure what I was expecting with this book but I was not expecting what I got! This is a very strange book about the horrors of war and the aftermath for the human psyche. The author served in Iraq and that experience shows.

The premise for the story is interesting - a soldier comes home from Iraq with a traumatic brain injury that allows him to communicate with the spirits of dying vets. I think I expected this "communication" to be part of his psychosis - all in his head - but it took a paranormal turn that I could have done without. There's enough physical evidence of these spirits and enough other people involved that we're expected to believe it's all real.

This wasn't a book that I just couldn't put down, but I did keep coming back to it. It was a little slow to get going - I was probably about a third of the way through before it really pulled me in. Once it got going, it just got weirder and weirder.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read (as much as a book about the darkest, ugliest war crimes can be) and I'll be on the lookout for the sequel!

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In Veterans' Affairs a vet comes home from Iraq with PTSD and a mild TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). After making the decision to get back on his feet and get a job at the local VA hospital, he discovers that his TBI has opened him up to new experiences. That these experiences are ones he neither wants nor needs is beside the point. Finding himself at the mercy of things beyond his control, Joey is pushed to his limits and beyond. And still, they won't let him rest.

Veterans' Affairs is a really hard book to review, because it doesn't feel like it fits particularly well in any genre. Its not a really a thriller or mystery because you figure out what's going on pretty quickly. There's some crazy stuff that happens, but nowhere near enough to mark it as a horror. It's more of a drama with paranormal elements than anything. It's well written, disconcerting, and somewhat unsettling.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a horrible thing all by itself. Its treatable, but the stigma attached to it is huge. People who have it are often afraid to admit they have it or to seek treatment for it because of the fear of being 'crazy'. It can wreck your life and, whilst some people are lucky enough that the symptoms lessen, can get harder and harder to bear. Often, people with PTSD feel there's only one way out. Many vets, even those without PTSD, end up feeling there's only way to escape the current situation they're in. In fact, there was a study done a few years ago that stated that 22 veterans a DAY committed suicide. That's a disturbingly high number.

Joseph Hirsch does a great job in addressing PTSD, TBI, and the life of wounded veterans after they return to the United States. He doesn't sugarcoat things. He also does a great job of addressing the views of the different wars, and how the veterans from each are treated. World War II with something approaching reverence, the Vietnam War being the dirty secret, etc. The objective observations combined with the first person view given of the situations when Joey finds himself reliving experiences from WWII and the Vietnam war force the reader to confront the realities of combat. The fact that no matter which war it was, the situations are horrific, and the scars they leave will never fully heal.

Veterans' Affairs doesn't hold back from addressing anything, including racism and hatred. The main character feels real enough that it seems like he could step off the pages at any moment. Apart from the paranormal aspect, he's just that believable. He's not perfect. He's not a macho man. Doesn't have rockstar good looks or a genius IQ. He's a guy that was in a war, and is now just trying to help others and help himself. Even when his thoughts are somewhat offensive, it didn't really bother me as a reader because of who the character was. That was just how Joey thought, and that's all there was to it.

This really is a great read. The only problem I really had with it was the somewhat abrupt ending. I will say, though, I don't think this is a book many women will enjoy. Its definitely tailored more towards male readers. I liked it perfectly fine, but as I'm not the typical female when it come to reading preferences, that doesn't speak volumes for it's female accessibility. Overall, while it's not perfect, and it doesn't really send a positive message, I think it is a comforting read in its own way. Joey is a character that will stay with you long after you've read the last page.

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