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Friends for the journey

When readers and friends ask what material I recommend for military spouses, my list usually includes books by Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer. The two friends and fellow Army spouses have been working and writing together for many years, and their work provides a practical, well-researched and positive approach.

For more than two decades, they’ve encouraged military spouses — through workshops, newspaper columns and books — to see this life as an opportunity, not an obstacle. In their friendship and their collaboration, they practice what they preach.

Hightower and Scherer met in 1991 at a school assignment in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. They haven’t been stationed together since, but they still work together on writing and speaking endeavors from opposite coasts, Hightower in Oregon and Scherer in Virginia. Their latest book, “Military Spouse Journey: Discover the Possibilities & Live Your Dreams,” is available Sept. 1. The book is an updated and retitled edition of their first book, “Help! I’m a Military Spouse — I Get a Life Too.”

When the two first met, Scherer said she was struggling to balance her career and the demands of her new role as a military spouse, growing frustrated at having to re-
create her career with each move.

Hightower had already begun researching new ways to approach military life differently, as a spouse and a reservist, presenting seminars about managing priorities for women in the workforce.

“It made me figure out my values,” she said. “I was sharing that with Holly and she said to me, ‘Every military spouse I know is struggling with this. Let’s create some kind of program for military spouses.’ ”

Assignments to Germany for both the Scherers and the Hightowers brought about the next phase of collaboration. Hightower was in Heidelberg; Scherer was in Bamberg. Both were starting over again, career-wise. They began carving out opportunities for speaking and helping military spouses together.

“We dove into the research, and we started asking other military spouses we admired, who appeared to really love this life, ‘How do you make this work?’ ” Scherer said.

Their workshop, “Follow Your Dreams While You Follow the Military,” was born from their research, and they gave presentations all over Europe. When their time overseas ended, the partnership remained, and a new dream emerged: writing a book.

“Every time we did a workshop, people came up to say how their friends could use the information,” Kathie said.

“I really wanted to be able to give people something to take with them,” said Holly.

They finally realized that dream in 2005 with the first edition of “Help! I’m a Military Spouse.” Through their books and workshops, Scherer and Hightower encourage spouses to see possibilities, use their skills to help others and brainstorm ways to overcome obstacles. On the path to getting their book published, the two had to put their principles into practice.

“When we first started trying to get our book published,” Hightower remembers, “we went to five or six publishers before one said, ‘There’s already a book out there for military spouses. I can’t see the market supporting a second one.’ That’s like saying there’s already one book out for parenting … or there’s already one book for dieting or for cooking. Military spouses face unique challenges; our needs are different. One book is never going to cover all that.”

Since then, of course, the market for military spouse and family books has grown considerably and has been recognized by major publishers.

Scherer and Hightower co-wrote “1001 Things to Love About Military Life” with Tara Crooks and Starlett Henderson in 2012.

For the latest book, “Military Spouse Journey,” the authors updated the research, added new stories from military spouses, restructured the material and changed the title.

“The most important message is to see the possibilities when you don’t think there are possibilities,” Hightower said. “We wanted to dive into that right up front.”

Disclosure: The publisher of Military Spouse Journey, Elva Resa Publishing, is a company with which I also have a professional relationship. My recognition of Holly’s and Kathie’s work predates that relationship, and I do not benefit from sales of their book.

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