Thank you, Alison!Military spouses are usually seen but not heard. I think this is because keeping quiet about the challenges of a military lifestyle is sometimes equated with loyalty. So military spouses are sometimes stereotyped as being quiet, reticent, blindly loyal, not so bright, or not terribly ambitious. I believed that stereotype myself, but when I started getting to know other military spouses I realized quickly how wrong I had been. So part of my goal for Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War, was to rewrite the image of the military spouse in the public imagination.
The experiences I write about emerge from my years as a military spouse. But the subjects, like love and loneliness, grief and loss, are eternal human themes which affect everyone. Standing By is the story of our family as we grew to know each other in new and surprising ways, and more than anything else, it's about how these relationships transformed us.
Many of the servicemember spouses I have met since embarking on this unexpected path have traveled it much longer than I have, and their experiences are richer and more dramatic than my own. Learning of the far-flung places they have established their lives, and the hardships and losses they have endured, has humbled me. Their can-do attitude and adventurous spirit has inspired me. They have taught me valuable lessons about the challenges and rewards of a military lifestyle, and I feel honored to transmit what I have learned from them -- especially if I can bring these stories to a civilian population with a limited understanding of America's Armed Forces. In doing so, I hope to show non-military readers the human face of deployment as it was experienced by those left behind. If military spouses read my memoir and think, "That's nothing, I've had it much harder," I hope that they will be inspired to share their experiences.
I call my military experience an ongoing civics lesson, and I've learned more about the nation – and the important role the military plays in its ongoing stability -- than I ever learned in school. Although in Standing By I portray my struggle with our identity as a military family, I believe the book is ultimately a tribute to the military, because our experience made me appreciate what it means to be an American.