Thursday, September 10, 2009

Military Writers Society of America to Present Founder’s Award to E. Franklin Evans for His Vietnam War Memoir

The Military Writers Society of America (, of which I’m a member, will present awards at its annual convention in October. While semi-finalists have been announced in various categories, some award recipients are already known.

One such recipient is E. Franklin Evans, who will receive the Founder’s Award for his memoir “Stand To .. A Journey to Manhood.” The award will be presented by the founder of MWSA – W.M. McDonald. “This is one of this decade’s ‘Top 10 Best Memoirs’ on the Vietnam War experience,” McDonald said.

A retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, Evans is a decorated officer with over 26 years of service. He has a degree in criminal justice and graduate degrees in management and computer resources.

He has been an adjunct college professor teaching microcomputer applications for over 11 years and recently ventured into the world of writing. He is widowed and has three grown children: two sons and a daughter. His website is

I’m planning to have a series of guest posts by the winners of the MWSA awards this year. Evans kicks off this planned series with the guest post below:

Throughout most of my career I have refused to revisit my time in Vietnam. I have often been asked questions about why I volunteered, what did I experience, and how do I feel about my service there. I found no adequate means of relating to those unfamiliar with the military with what a young soldier far away from home and in a dangerous environment felt.

It was uncomfortable for me to engage in conversation on the subject of my experiences. I think partly that was true because many of those who asked were just making polite conversation and were surprised to find that I was a “Vietnam vet.” In their minds, the “typical” Vietnam vet was a long-haired, social misfit, and frequently was seen as a malcontent grabbing attention for some personal reason or other.

Discussions with many non-military experienced individuals sometimes led to a confrontational debate. I avoided these discussions altogether. To do otherwise invited lengthy, and often heated, discussion that led to questions of “Why did we get involved in such a war?” or “Why didn’t we go all out to win?” Or “How could our military let such occurrences as village burning, civilian massacres, and indiscriminate bombing happen?”

Questions such as those provoked anger and resentment against those who rarely understood that the vast majority of our men and women in uniform were honorable, compassionate, and patriotic persons doing their duty in a professional manner and focused on the more relevant concerns of staying alive and protecting those around them.

My Vietnam experience was highly personal and, I suspect, like many of my contemporaries, I just wanted to move on with my life and not focus upon that brief, although significant, part of my life.

Another reason I did not want to reflect on my Vietnam experience had nothing to do with the experience itself. Rather it dealt with the pain of how I came to become a Vietnam veteran. I had lost a very good friend of mine in Vietnam and tried to put it out of my mind. I often wondered if that incident could be related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Did my friend’s death and my reaction to it constitute PTSD?

Unusual as it may seem, during my research I found some support for that thought. One source defines PTSD as “…a debilitating psychological condition triggered by a major traumatic event, such as rape, war, a terrorist act, death of a loved one, a natural disaster, or a catastrophic accident. It is marked by upsetting memories or thoughts of the ordeal, ‘blunting’ of emotions, increased arousal, and sometimes severe personality changes.”

Using that definition I began to see that it might be possible for that long ago loss of a friend to be contributing to my reluctance to discuss or admit my Vietnam experience. I further discovered that this syndrome, although normally occurring soon after the event, could develop years after the initial trauma occurred and, once the symptoms begin, they could fade away to return later or even become chronic.

My book Stand To…A Journey to Manhood is my attempt to express my thoughts and experiences in a forum that, hopefully, reaches many people and educates those who don’t know what a young soldier far away from home and in a dangerous environment feels.

The broad range of emotions suddenly thrust upon a young man or woman evoke varied responses. These emotions can contribute to PTSD, requiring lengthy treatment later.

Many times, though, the combat veteran returns home and quietly adapts. The veteran, in any case, is a changed person because of his or her experiences.

(The Amazon book link is an affiliate link.)

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION. She also writes articles as a National Internet Business Examiner and she is the co-host of the BlogTalkRadio show

Phyllis' company combines traditional marketing principles with the power of Internet marketing strategies to promote your business more effectively. Her company also does Twitter tutoring by teleconferencing -- see


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