Love letter to military life
Published: February 13, 2012
When times are tough in any relationship, it’s good to have a reminder of why you fell in love to begin with. Valentine’s Day is a good time to re-read a forgotten love letter or even write a new one. Four military spouses have written a book that is a love letter to their way of life — and ours.
Authors Tara Crooks, Star Henderson, Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer share a love for military life and a desire to tell the world why. Their vision became reality in “1001 Things to Love About Military Life.” (Hachette 2011)
Kathie said they have been asked how they can write about loving the military during wartime, when there are so many challenges. Each of the authors expressed, in different ways, that the hard times are the best times to remember what makes military life worthwhile.
“When I think about this life I think, yeah, it’s hard,” said Tara. “But if I didn’t have this life, I wouldn’t have all these things to love.
“We have benefits and jobs. Yes, we have a hard job, and the benefits can be frustrating, but we have them. More than anything, we have a community of people. There’s so much strength in this community.”
Star said the daily grind can obscure the good stuff.
“You get worried about solving the next challenge instead of thinking about the next opportunity," she said. "I think we just need a go-to place — a reminder.”
Although they are all friends and have worked together on other projects, none of the authors has been stationed in the same place at the same time. They wrote this book while living thousands of miles apart. Also during the writing process, Star and her family moved from Virginia to Missouri — a journey of exactly 1,001 miles door to door, she discovered on MapQuest.
“I’m not one typically to believe in signs, but that felt like a sign,” said Star.
They live in four different states now, so I had to catch them in pairs: Holly and Kathie at a D.C.-area book-signing, Star and Tara on a three-way conference call between Missouri and Oklahoma and Virginia.
The title means what it says. The book is a positive look at 1,001 things found in all branches of military life. They range from lifelong friendships (number 959) to the Post 9/11 GI Bill (number 936) and even BCG’s (number 630).
“Can you imagine your life without being able to laugh about birth control glasses?” said Star.
Even in such an extensive list, the authors said they wanted readers to be able to add more, so they incorporated journaling spaces into the text.
“We cannot capture all the military moments or all the things to love about military life,” said Kathie. “It’s our hope that the book will trigger memories.”
Star said the journal feature allows readers to personalize the book, adding their thoughts and experiences. The authors used the word “legacy” often when talking about the book, especially when discussing the journaling feature. Kathie mentioned her hope that veterans will record their experiences and pass the books along to their families.
Although written by Army wives, two of whom also served on active duty, the book includes material from all service branches and is aimed at anyone with a military connection, veterans, parents and children, as well as active-duty members and spouses.
Holly described a young airman who was at first skeptical about the book when she met him at a signing event. After taking a look inside the pages, he bought a book for himself and several for his buddies, because, “They need to be reminded of why they are serving,” said Holly.
Kathie said one woman buying the book for her Sgt. Major said the book contains “1001 Reasons to Keep Your Head Up.”
“These are my reasons that I fell in love, that I stay married,” said Star, “and that I will encourage my own children to look into (the military) as an option.”
Tara said the highest praise for her was from her brother, who saw the book as a tribute to her soldier husband, Kevin.
“The thing (my brother) loved most about the book was that he could tell how much I really loved Kevin, and he was so glad I had such a wonderful relationship with my husband,” she said.
That's what a love letter should do.
Holly and Kathie have been leading workshops all over the world to encourage military spouses since 1994. They are the authors of “Help! I’m a Military Spouse—I Get a Life Too!”
Star and Tara teamed up in 2006 to write and later lead workshops about military life. The pair founded Army Wife Network in 2009 to combine their radio show, column, conferences, and blog.
For more about the book, the authors and their other projects and activities on behalf of military spouses, see lovemilitarylife.com