Books

The Battle Within

Major Hugh Dégaré never thought working a desk could be worse than combat. But shortly after starting a new job in Canada’s National Defence Headquarters, he finds himself fighting to maintain his grip on reality. Amidst sleepless nights and intense memories from his combat service, he does what he’s always done; takes action.

Afraid of being stigmatized by his chain of command, he turns to a psychologist and an estranged friend, Daryl, now an ex-soldier. Despite his best efforts, Hugh’s rage continues to grow. When his support network starts to fall apart with no end in sight to his symptoms, Hugh finally turns to a questionable military medical system, desperate to do anything to save his career, marriage and life itself.  His sole remaining hope is that the system supposedly designed to help him doesn’t put the final nail into his coffin instead.

Praise for The Battle Within

“A must read, raw and real account of the harsh battle that rages on all fronts for many soldiers upon returning home from deployment. These shared soldier’s perspectives in Luft’s words draw you into the daily struggles and challenges our finest face when dealing with PTSD as a result of their service, with the highest price of all often paid by their loved ones. Hard lessons that we tragically seem destined to learn over and over again.”

The Honourable Peter MacKay, PC, QC
38th Minister of National Defence (2007-2013)

“Alastair Luft is a gifted writer and a masterful story-teller. And although this novel is a work of fiction, it shines a searing light on the real-life challenges and sometimes tragic consequences of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. It also puts a very human face on those who unselfishly serve in harm’s way on behalf of the nation, and the families that so lovingly support them. I found this novel almost impossible to put down once I started reading it. I strongly commend it to all.”

General (Retired) Raymond R. Henault
Former Canadian Forces Chief of the Defence Staff (2001-2005)

 

“Generations have sought to understand a major battlefield injury; shell shock, battle fatigue or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as it is known today. Alastair Luft has made a major contribution to our knowledge, by putting a personal face on “the battle within” which will serve both soldier and citizen alike. The novel is a challenging one to read. It is written in the language of the soldier, and reflects the sense of hopelessness and betrayal felt by the PTSD sufferer. One can’t read it and be untouched by their plight but such awareness is essential if society is to address the nightmare many soldiers face – the price they have paid for defending our freedom.”

Lieutenant-General (Retired) Michael K. Jeffery
Former Canadian Forces Chief of Land Staff (2000 – 2003)

 

“Non-fiction books have been written by the score about this century’s war in Afghanistan. Many were written by soldiers who in most cases were compelled by loyalty and the brotherhood to protect those who suffered, particularly from the curse of PTSD. Alastair Luft has broken the code and found a method to expose the pain and suffering of the PTSD victim – reveal it in fiction! While all cases are different, many of the manifestations are eerily simmilar and the book’s tragic hero endures many of them with dramatic results. Anyone who wishes to understand much better, no matter what their background, the silent curse of PTSD and enjoy the journey would benefit from reading this compelling story.”

Major-General (Retired) Lewis MacKenzie

Excerpt

Major Hugh Dégaré bolted upright, blinking in the abyss-like darkness surrounding him. As adrenaline pumped through his body, accustomed to racing from deep sleep to full throttle through years of practice, the familiar sights of his bedroom came into focus, everything tinted silver with moonlight through the bedroom window. A sound from across the room pulled his gaze to a corner. His wife, Elizabeth, sat on the floor, arms clutching her legs against her chest while the shoulders of her petite frame shuddered.

He was wide awake now, senses on overdrive and heart racing. In one gesture, he threw off the covers and jumped out of bed. Surefooted as a leopard, he hit the floor moving, crossing the distance in two purposeful steps.

“Are you all right?” he said.

She cowered into the corner, clutching herself tighter. “Stay away.”

Kneeling, he reached out to caress her leg, the tribal tattoos on his arm a black void of light against his skin. She shrank from his touch, and he froze. What had gotten into her? “What is it?”

She wiped her eyes and stared at him, her eyes reflecting the moonlight. “You hit me.”

He shook his head. That can’t be true.