They Gave Up Their Lives and Lived to Tell About It

For so many years, Tom Puetz saw himself as a victim and perpetrator of extreme violence. What he had endured defined him. He is more than that now. His wonderful friends and family offered their love and encouragement. He accepted that gift, and has finally and truly come home after serving in Vietnam in 1969.

Like many other veterans who saw active duty, Puetz suffered the rejection and shame that his brethren found awaiting them upon returning home to “the world.” After decades of living with PTSD, he decided to begin writing as a catharsis, but soon found his words were telling a semi-autobiographical tale about the relationship between a Vietnam Vet and the woman he loves. 

Secret Choices, a #1 bestselling novel, shows the personal costs of war, and follows a combat veteran through a different kind of battle. A battle every veteran must win if they are to reconcile the moral injury of combat and return home from their war. 

Tom Warden found the courage to face death in Vietnam. Now he must find the courage to face life. When the man he thought was his ally accuses him of murder, he has a choice. He can hide from the truth of what he has become in order to survive, or open his heart and be the point man of his own life. 

Secret Choices finds the triumph and tragedy in man’s primal nature, and shows the personal costs of war. It transforms PTSD, from a mental health issue, into the need for friends, family, community, and the nation, to heal the hearts of their soldiers.

Tom says, “I wish those older veterans had talked about their war. Now I’m one of those older veterans. I’m ready to talk. I really don’t want everyone to endure what I have endured, just so they can understand me. Well, maybe I do a little, but I do not need them to. What is needed is a leap of faith and love to take someone’s word for what is tormenting them.” 

“My biggest fear and source of anger is that deep down in the heart of this nation is a black heart of immorality that knows the horrors of war and still sends its young men and women to kill in its name. Sends them to take, by force of arms, the resources we need, the territory we want, in order to feel secure.” 

Like many veterans, Puetz has worked hard to resolve the issues that plagued him after he returned and resumed his life with the stigma of “baby killer”. First Lady Barbara Bush said it best, “Well, look at what people are doing for returned veterans now – The wounded warriors. They’re working hard to make the wounded veterans feel that they are loved and welcomed home, unlike Vietnam. It was not a very kind, gentle world then. I think we are kinder and gentler.” 

Tom Puetz officially launched Secret Choices on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2014 at

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