Who is AJ McClellan?
E Pluribus Unum - our nation's motto. It means "out of many, one." Our founding fathers used this to describe the thirteen colonies coming together as one nation. The individual parts becoming a whole. That, in essence, is how I developed AJ's character.
I worked as a VA Chaplain for twelve years. The first two of those were in palliative care. The last ten years I specialized in mental health. I worked with combat veterans (and their families) from every conflict since WWII. We walked, we talked, we cried, and we laughed together as those men and women did their best to make sense of who they were after war.
AJ McClellan embodies all of them who trusted me with their sacred stories. There's good, bad, sad, hopeful, terrified, and a host of other facets to him. If I had to describe in one word his most inspiring character trait, it would be resiliency. Just as the warriors I know. I hope I have honorably and authentically represented each of them through AJ.
Lastly, not all who return from war can continue living with what they did and saw. Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide. This nation must make it a priority to do everything in its power to help heal our heroes. My greatest hope is that this story will help educate those who don't know what it's like and give hope to those who do.