By Sharyn Alden Special to the Times-Tribune
Gregory Lee Renz, author of Beneath the Flames, discusses firsthand knowledge of firefighters’ battles with post-traumatic stress disorder, also a theme in his novel.
Gregory Lee Renz, a former captain of 28 years with the Milwaukee Fire Department, has written an acclaimed debut novel, Beneath the Flames. Before retirement, Renz was highly decorated with awards for saving two boys from their burning basement bedroom.
Since his book was published a few weeks ago Renz, who has not personally experienced PTSD, has been surprised by the number of responses from active and retired firefighters regarding the topic of PTSD. It is presented in intimate detail in his novel.
Numerous firefighters have shared some of their most painful memories with him like visions of a mother draped over her small child to protect her from the fire.
A retired fire captain wrote him saying he appreciated how his story presents the topic of PTSD. At the end of his career he said he had a tough time, but eventually accepted and understood his own pain. Reading Renz’ book, he said, was not unlike therapy.
His book also addresses the PTSD epidemic in the youth of the inner city where they often witness multiple acts of violence.
Besides PTSD Renz covers other topics drawn from his years as a firefighter in his informative talks.
Deforest Public Library, 6 p.m., July 22.