by Don Helin
The third Zack Kelly thriller
It started with a phone call, a simple phone call from the ex-wife of one of Colonel Zack Kelly's former officers. Her ex has been murdered, branded with the words Dark Angel, castrated, then dumped on a beach in New Jersey. She wants Zack’s help to find the killer. Meanwhile Lieutenant Colonel Rene Garcia uncovers a plot to hack into the Pentagon's data base to steal classified material on the military drone program. Before they can confirm a whistle blower’s statements, he is hit by a truck and lies near death in a hospital. Next a military drone turns up missing. Zack and Garcia follow a trail of dismembered bodies from explosions at military installations. Can the murders and the effort to hack into the DOD system be related? As the investigation continues, Zack finds himself the next target, but will anyone believe him? And what about that missing drone? What is its target?
One morning as I was downing my first cup of coffee, I spotted an article in the paper (yes, I still read the newspaper) on the problem of sexual abuse against women in the military. I'd spent a career in the army, serving in Vietnam as well as a number of stateside posts, and was surprised to see the growing magnitude of this problem.
As I did my research, I became frustrated that the services had not done a better job of treating young women. It's obvious this problem exists for women not only when they serve our country, but continues to haunt them when they leave active duty.
A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) survey showed that one in four female soldiers experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault during their time in the military. And the problem is growing because female veterans represent the military's fastest-growing population with an estimated 2.2 million or ten percent of the country's veterans.
The Institute of Medicine in Washington D.C., concluded that military women are more likely to be single parents, making it harder for them to juggle military and family obligations. When one female soldier returned from Iraq, she came home to a stack of boxes and an almost 3-year-old who didn't know her anymore. Her son couldn't understand his mother's disappearance, and developed self-destructive tantrums and other behavioral problems.
Just as distressing is the effect of war on female soldiers when they return to civilian life. They make up the fastest-growing segment of the homeless. They're diagnosed with mental-health problems more often than male vets, and women vets who have served since 2001 had an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent-- higher than the rates for both male vets and female non-vets.
Right then and there, I decided I would write a novel addressing the problems that female soldiers face in the military, and what one group of female veterans decided to do about it. The story opens with an officer having been murdered, branded with the words Dark Angel, castrated, then dumped on a beach in New Jersey.
Compounding the investigation, my protagonist, Colonel Zack Kelly, uncovers a plot to hack into the Pentagon's data base to steal classified material on the military drone program. A Predator drone turns up missing. Can the murders and the effort to hack into the DOD system be related?
My hope is that all who read Angel's Revenge will realize the price many of our young women are paying to serve in the military. I believe also this is a problem that permeates our society whether is be on Wall Street or in our colleges. It's time to stamp out this problem. Our daughters deserve better.