seal It’s not that the American people don’t think of their veterans all year round. Many of us do, especially when we see men and woman in uniform or hear the news about Iraq & Afghanistan. However there are certain things that cause us to think about them more, like Veteran’s Day or yesterday, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Reading the BelleBooks anthology SEAL of MY DREAMS put them very much on my mind as well. After finishing the book, I thought about how the concept of the book in and of itself is so moving. Belle Books, a company established in 1999 by Debra Dixon, Deborah Smith, Sandra Chastain, Virginia Ellis, Nancy Knight and Donna Ball, and eighteen different authors are donating all the proceeds from this book to Veterans Research Corporation.

Returning veterans have unique medical issues, most caused by trauma rather than illness, and these include Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), spinal cord injuries, burns, and amputations. Aging veterans suffer from the same diseases that impact the general population such as heart disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes. The Veteran Research Corporation was founded to raise funds for supported veteran based medical research. While this corporation works closely with the Veterans Medical Research Foundation and the US Veterans Administration, it is privately supported.

Robyn Carr wrote the forword for the anthology and then: Jami Alden, Stephanie Bond, Kylie Brant, Helen Brenna, Cindy Gerald, HelenKay Dimon, Tara Janzen, Leslie Kelly, Elle Kennedy, Jo Leigh, Gennita Low, Marliss Melton, Christie Ridgway, Barbara Samuel, Rosanne St. Claire, Stephanie Tyler, and Loreth Ann White each contributed a story.

While I can’t say that I actively seek out SEAL stories and many of the authors are new to me, I enjoyed the selections. I suspect that some of the stories are about characters that have previously been introduced in various series – still all the stories are perfect reads as stand alones.Time and place changes with each story with some of the men still active in the field, others facing a new injury or disability, and some have been discharged. I had to admit that I was extremely touched by the stories about the men returning home. Of course I had favorites but more because of the subject matter than any issues with the writing. Here are descriptions of a few that I found especially memorable:

Baby I’m Back by Stephanie Bond
Seaman Barry Ballentine hasn’t lived in Sweetness, Georgia since he was fifteen. Impressed by the servicemen who alerted the town right before the F-5 tornado hit and then rescued him and other individuals buried alive in the country store’s basement, he made up his mind right then that he would be joining the service. With the town completely destroyed, his family moved away, but it has always seemed like home. On medical leave from his SEAL team he is here to honor a special member of the force.

Panama Jack by Tara Janzen
A female CIA agent in the field needs an escort on an almost weekly basis to a dangerous area between Panama and Columbia and every week, she requests Jack Corday, U.S. Navy SEAL. Each is attracted to the other but the mission comes first.

Wrapped and SEALed by Leslie Kelly
Tanner Boudreau is putty in his grandmother’s hands. He just can’t say no when she ask him to be Santa for the annual Christmas part at the veteran’s assisted living facility With his grandmother’s promise that he only has to stay a hour he agrees. Especially since his time is so precious. With only two days left of his leave, he is hoping to find the doctor he met in Yemen years ago.

Not Waving but Drowning by Jo Leigh
Dan Hogan had hoped to put his troubles behind him during his leave and visit with his best friend. However, Renee Cocker knows him as well as she knows herself and she knows something is bothering him. She just has to figure out how to get him to open up. Of course since he knows her as well as she knows him, it might be a little difficult.

And last but definitely not least since this is my favorite:
Dog Heart by Barbara Samuel
Staff Sergeant Thor was a combat dog attached to a SEAL unit until his handler Sean was killed and he was gravely insured. Sean was Marcus Stone’s best friend and he promised Sean that he would take care of Thor if anything happened to him. He is trying his best, but Thor is suffering from PTSD. Even though Jessie and he ended their relationship five years ago, she is the only person he knows that might be able to help.

Sounds like good stuff, doesn’t it? Buying this book is such a win-win situation. It’s a diverse group of well written and sometimes very moving stories – No matter what type of story you enjoy this book has it covered, and the proceeds go to such a worthy cause. We all like to say that we support our troups. By supporting medical research, you are definitely supporting our current and past Veterans.

Since it has been out since Nov 11, have any of you read it yet? What are your favorite stories?

– Leigh Davis