Much of this work, while being fiction, is rooted in my life. I'd like that say that 40% or more of Alone In The Light is taken from the Life History of Benjamin Bass. I struggled for years with "self-medication" and drinking. I was sullen and angry. I ignored the people who cared about me in favor of being ill-tempered, sitting alone in my apartment.. And I think that comes across in Josh Carpenter's post-deployment attitude quite well.
In addition, social media didn't exist in 2005 - at least not like it is today. Smart phones weren't a thing yet - you'll note that both Josh and Mary have flip-phones. I remember when "thefacebook.com" came to IU. It was around during this time, but it wasn't widespread then. This story would be very different in 2011 or 2019. We've become so dependent on smart technology and social media that it's almost impossible to remember life before it, but I remember. I remember just how easy it was to shut out the world and hide in my apartment, and I didn't have to post selfies or anything to prove I was alive and well.
In researching this book, I've taken a lot time to look over the statistics of PTSD, TBI, and amputations throughout the timeline of OIF, OEF, and various other military campaigns. One of the reasons this is set in 2005, aside from coinciding with my own life, is that I try to shed some light on the VA and U.S. government's lack of preparedness in dealing with these things.
I remember early visits to the VA when I came home in '04 and '05. And I remember the drastic change in who the patients were that followed soon after. In the early years it was me and a few other younger soldiers with dozens of WWII and Vietnam-era vets. They would look at us as an oddity. Then, as our numbers increased - we were sort of looked on with a knowing expression of sadness and acceptance by the older vets.