They say you can't appreciate what you haven't experienced. No truer words apply to the military family. I know because I've been there. But you can get a glimpse of what our military families endure and how they cope through written experiences. Here are five books I've slected to get you started and to give some comfort and aid to our military families.
A Year of Absence: Six women's stories of courage, hope and love. As the title suggests, this book is about how six women whose husbands deployed to Iraq in 2003, delt, almost moment by moment, with the constant fear of the worst. Written by Jessica Redmond, a military spouse, the book recounts how she and other military families lived and coped during difficult times.
While They're At War: The True Story of American Families on the Homefront. Like the previous book, this one is written by a military spouse with first hand experience of coping with deployment. Kristin Henderson's book goes further and deeper however with over 100 interviews. She focuses on two wives whose husbands are deployed to Iraq, the support they recieve and how it succeeds and sometimes fails. Together, these two books give a powerful account and great insight into the reality of military families.
Surviving Deployment: A Guide for Military Families. Written for families with deployed spouses as a practical guide on how to prepare, survive and even grow during deployments, civilians can learn from it too. Civilians can gain an insight into a world most outside the military never imagine exists.
Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. We all have many practical needs and go about our daily business without much fuss. From reading the previous books, readers get an insight into the added burdens military families face. It might be a streach to say that military families are more in touch with their religious beliefs than the general public. But facing death and knowing your loved one is facing death, has a way of revealing things in a different light.
Deployment Journal for Kids. Last but not least a book to help "kids" cope with their parents deployment. I would venture a journal would help any member of the military family cope. The good thing about this book is that it guides you in keeping the journal. From the product description:
"A variety of proven journaling techniques provide a framework for children to better understand deployments, express and communicate their feelings, and tell their own story. Contains calendar pages, writing prompts, interesting facts about common deployment locations, military definitions, helpful ideas, and a pocket to keep mementos. A companion web site, www.deploymentkids.com, offers time zone and distance calculators, games, and more."
None of these books and tools were available back in my Navy days. Had they been, perhaps my first marriage would have survived.
For civilians, I hope you read these books and gain a better appreciation for the magnificent men, women and children who make up the finest military in the world - America's armed forces.
For military members and families, I hope these books will go someway to easing your burdens and give you hope and comfort.
Marc Landers, CPO, USN, Ret.
Update: Fixed a couple of broken links.