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The VVA Veteran Reviews Prelude

Prelude was recently reviewed by David Wilson, a reviewer from the site “Books in Review II.” Wilson's review eloquently chronicles his reaction to the novel alongside his own experience in Vietnam. "I highly recommend this novel, both as a good read and as a glimpse into the lives of...

SD Sawyer

What can families do to bring them home (after they return)?

Wives of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are smarter than we were back in the ’60′s and 70′s.  Programs help their families readjust. But wives tell me debriefing is more for the soldier, not the spouse. We need more assistance to help the family cope after the honeymoon phase of the reunion wanes. What can a wife do to help bring her husband back to her, back to his Daddy role? His role as Head of House, or— Co-Head of the Home?

One big step forward from the 1960′s is—  at least our country doesn’t expect deployed soldiers to return to their homes at the end of the day like any other spouse coming in after a daily commute.  Huge step.  Huge.  We recognize—  coming home is going to be different for a military family.

Every question I’m asked about my novel forces me back there.  But it’s OK.  I can do this.  It’s  easy for me to touch feelings.  To tap in again. To remember a commitment to find the married life we never had a chance to start.  At 22, I didn’t know what marriage would look like, should be like.  Married less than a year before he deployed, months filled with fear of deployment, facing child-birth alone, nightmares of sitting on a folding chair in Arlington National Cemetery, dressed in black, clutching an infant  . . .   All Part I of my novel.

Reflecting back almost half a century, I realize—  some things I said & did made it work.  Others were triggers.   Frustration  could make me hit a trigger—  and I swear (I believe now & deeply regret), sometimes—   intentionally.  I could trigger explosions like grenades and bombs.

What the hell was I doing?  Why?  (Who says military families don’t need debriefing!)

But I want to focus on things I did that made it work.  Some things I suggest might help today’s military family.  I’d really appreciate reader suggestions below!   I’ll probably add to the list at times, because when I meet with veterans, talk with families, an emotional flood pulls me right under.  But talking about it, writing about it, keeps me from drowning. (Wish I’d known THAT little truism years ago).

I’ll end today with that idea.  Start treading water.  ”Tweet”  thoughts/ feelings/images as they spiral around your head . . . into a little notebook—   Learn to swim.

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