Mr. Heins recently returned from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. He served as the commander for Psychological Operations Teams, part of Special Operation Forces in Eastern Afghanistan. Many of the missions covered the rugged Kunar Province, one of the most volatile areas in the country. In between those missions, during the quiet times, he wrote several short stories and a full-length novel. “The downtime left a little too much time to think, at least for me, so I started writing.” It was a natural fit for him and gave him an outlet to reconcile difficult experiences.
The horror genre, as he explains, is a way to process traumatic events. “Writing allowed me to take all the disturbing images bouncing around my head and organize them. I was able to take fictional characters and have them experience something similar, but this time I could control the outcomes. By constructing ‘death’ as something personified to fight against and maybe even destroy, the randomness and uncontrollable nature of war or life was a little easier to accept.”
Heins is modest about his aspirations as an author. However, the writing helps him deal with his experiences and he has even had both books published. The novel, PLAGUE: The Release and the collection of short stories, The Undead Collection, are available online through Amazon.
Patrick Heins currently works for Vidant Health in North Carolina. He continues to work on his next book although he’s not sure if it will be published. “I’m doing this more for me, but if other people find it even remotely entertaining, that’s good. And, if this approach helps other veterans cope? All the better.”