- N. N. Light
Fit for Duty by K.A. Kron is a Salute Military Event pick #militarythriller #thriller #giveaway
Title: Fit for Duty
Author: K.A. Kron
Genre: Military Thriller / LGBT Thriller
Publisher: She Reads Books
Army Psychiatrist Jennifer Stevens struggles to find answers when her ex-husband, a medic dies violently in front of her after a disastrous rescue mission. Jennifer begins investigating the circumstances of Kevin's death, as she defends her decision to return him to active duty prior to death. Soon she begins to suspect that her efforts to help traumatized soldiers by following military protocols may be inflicting more harm than good in dictating a quick return to duty. Jennifer's own combat trauma, physical and psychological, becomes an obstacle, as she is put on trial for what happened to her ex-husband. And though she has the support of her wife and daughter, her life in the service may soon end in disaster and prison if she can't prove her innocence.
I was dejected. I felt off-tilt. I felt like the colonel was here to basically give me the steps, my path out of the military. I hid my feelings, my insecurity, or I hoped I was hiding them.
COL Marino did not expect or require a response. “I think that there is a need now.”
I couldn’t really argue, both because she was my boss and because she was right. “Yes, ma’am.”
“I think you should take another look at this and decide whether you’re serving your patients and yourself at this point.” She handed me some paperwork. It was a post-deployment questionnaire, my personal questionnaire. “You should understand the importance of being honest when completing these. You know that this is an invaluable tool for assessing the emotional state of a soldier. How am I supposed to determine whether you are able to do your job? You were exposed to several incredibly traumatic events right before you rotated back, yet none of that is reflected here. I’m not sure I understand why.”
Question 5. Did you ever feel like you were in great danger of being killed? Did you encounter dead bodies or see people wounded or killed? I answered no. Question 10a. During this deployment, did any of the following events happen to you? Mark all that apply. Blast or explosion, vehicular accident, to include aircraft. Again, I said no. I don’t know why I would say that. These were done on the computer, so she had flagged mine, printed and was handing me this evidence: I was in denial, at least according to this form. I realized that this looked bad. It was bad.
“Colonel Stevens, I need to make you aware that the circumstances of Sergeant Jackson’s death are under formal review.”
The first thought in my head wasn’t the most rational, so I’m glad I didn’t share it—that damn Davis. She was stirring up problems. Couldn’t she just let him go in peace? “Ma’am, I would have expected that there would be an investigation into his death.”
Marino shifted. “I don’t think you understand, colonel. The investigation includes whether your actions or inaction played a role in his death.”
I didn’t think that anything could take my breath, that I had anything left in me to deflate, but she’d done it. Of all the horrors I’d experienced, this was the most horrific. “Ma’am, are you telling me that I’ve been accused of causing Sergeant Jackson’s death?”
The colonel historically wasn’t a fan of my repeated insistence on visiting soldiers. At the same time, they were actually exposed to combat rather than waiting for the battle-weary individuals to be sent to me in a relatively clean and safe hospital environment. Still, she’d always been fair and upfront with me. I hoped this hadn’t changed.
“Colonel Stevens—Jennifer. I know you’d never intentionally do anything to harm him, but his death was, even for a war zone, quite out of the ordinary, don’t you agree?”
I nodded. “Yes. I would have done anything to save him. I can’t get past the fact that there had to be something I could have done for him. Anything.”
The colonel sighed. “Jennifer, Captain Jeffries filed complaints against you. One of the things he alleges is that you contributed to Sergeant Jackson’s death.”
I didn’t want to think about the circumstances of his death any longer. Still, it was starting to look like it would follow me for a while, be inspected, and dissected, which would keep my invisible wound bleeding freely for the foreseeable future.
The colonel shifted. “The concern that has been posed is whether Sergeant Jackson should have been on duty that day. Jeffries says that he determined that Jackson was not fit to be on flight status.”
I nodded. “Jeffries did make that determination a few days earlier, but I assessed Jackson the night before. He was stable.”
“He’s also alleged that you put Captain Barbara Black in jeopardy and undermined his treatment plan for her.” The colonel looked into the file again. He was using excessive restraints and medications on her.
“Captain Black’s injuries were unavoidable. As you know, I was returning her to the hospital at the time.”
The colonel leaned forward. “Can you see the problem here? We have two patients of yours who were put into harm’s way, by your hand, within hours of one another, and I hope, by the looks of your uniform, we aren’t adding a third to that.”
“What happened to your uniform, Colonel Stevens?”
I looked down to see there was blood that had turned brown. “I’m sorry, ma’am. I was assessing a patient who opened up a wound.”
I ran my hand through my hair. I realized that this looked bad. It was bad.
She closed the file. “And finally, there is an allegation that you took a service dog out of theatre and back to the US without authorization.”
The last one hit me with more force than the others. “Ma’am, the dog is injured and emotionally fragile, and Captain Black was her handler.”
The colonel nodded. “I’m aware, but there are protocols for that. They can compel that the dog is released to the K9 Unit for recovery.”
“Ma’am, what happens next?”
“If JAG decides to pursue this investigation as a criminal matter, you will be assigned a JAG attorney, and there will be a hearing to see if there are enough facts to support the allegations and move things to courts-martial.”
“Yes, ma’am. Am I removed from duty?”
The colonel shook her head. “No, colonel, these seem like a string of unfortunate incidents at this point, so until proven otherwise, you should continue your duties. However, given the circumstances, you will undergo evaluations for physical and mental fitness for duty. Why don’t you head home for the day and give your leg a rest?”
My shoulders slumped. My career was unlikely to survive this three-pronged attack. I just hoped my reputation would.
Buy Links (including Goodreads):
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Fit-Duty-K-Kron/dp/1590217217/
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3ovYPha
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"With great sensitivity and power, Kron captures the 'organized chaos' of life in a war zone and the trauma that predictably results." - Kirkus Reviews
“An extremely powerful work of fiction that highlights myriad issues facing the US military. The lead character is full of depth and meaning. The author gives life to a character to the point the reader feels what Jen is feeling. The realistic portrayal of modern battlefield conditions is to be commended.” – N. N. Light’s Book Heaven
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Runs May 23 – May 31, 2023.
Winner will be drawn on June 1, 2023.
K.A. Kron is the author of several acclaimed thrilling books about lesbians in the contemporary American military. She has been nominated for the Golden Crown and Lambda Literary Award. When not writing, she is a practicing attorney living in Pennsylvania with two beloved Cocker Spaniels.