Monday, December 03, 2007

HOME FRONT: Far apart on special occasions: AHWATUKEE FOOTHILLS NEWS

I missed Halloween with my kids this year because I was sick in bed. I missed the whole shebang – sprinkling glitter on my princess’ hair, tightening my pirate’s sash and tying a bandana around my cowboy’s neck.

I missed the chicken shish kabobs grilled in a friend’s driveway, and the Tecate offered to the parents congregated in lawn chairs. And obviously I missed trick-or-treating.

Before heading out the door, my oldest son looked upset. He said he really wanted me to go. In 10 years of parenthood I had never missed this annual night on the town. But this year I queasily explained that sometimes life conspires against families, forcing them to be apart on special occasions. I kissed the top of his hat and sent him on his way, realizing the magnitude of my understatement.

Earlier I had spoken with my brother Mike in Iraq. He said a new sergeant had recently arrived from the States to command his vehicle on convoy security missions. This sergeant didn’t deploy with the rest of the unit last June because she was pregnant. She’s since delivered her baby and is now back on the job, joining her husband who is also deployed in Iraq.

These parents are missing more than their baby’s first Halloween; they’re missing the entire first year of their baby’s life. Years ago the Selective Service Board granted Dick Cheney a “hardship” exemption from serving in Vietnam – his hardship being that he was a new father. Policies are no longer so kind to children.

Recently a friend described a scene he observed at the airport. He noticed a commotion surrounding a soldier departing for war. A frantic mother wrestled to unpeel her screaming son who was clenching the soldier’s legs and begging, “Daddy, don’t go!” As soon as the mother ripped the child free, instead of spending the full amount of every last second embracing his family, the soldier had to quickly disappear to avoid more painful drama. My friend said it was the saddest scene he’d ever witnessed, yet it illuminates the grief children feel not just on departure day, but more subtly all deployment long.

People ask me if I think Mike should be in Iraq. It’s a loaded question, one that I can answer in a variety ways. I can start with the invasion and rant about how the president exaggerated threats, how most of the Congress ignored the data that told the truth, how the media did little to demand accountability and how the majority of the citizenry was (and still is) apathetic (elected officials report that very few constituents ever call or write to comment on the war).

Or I could just cut to my answer: Yes! The military is short staffed. To compensate, this year the Defense Department extended the length of deployments to 15 months, longer than any tour in Vietnam. Congress just failed to pass a bill to ensure that soldiers returning from war spend an equal amount of time at home before being redeployed. Soldiers are overscheduled.

So unequivocally yes. Mike should be in Iraq because our military is fighting there, he volunteered to serve, and in doing so he’s replacing a soldier who deserves a turn at home, a place where regular civilian clothes might feel like a costume, and to some child his or her presence is better than candy.

Missy Martin is an 11-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident, mother of three and editor of Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront. Her brother, U.S. Army Specialist Michael Dunn, attended Arizona State University and graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in accounting and now provides security on convoys in and out of Iraq. He can be contacted at Spec. Mike Dunn 7th Chem – APO AE09366.

Suicide Epidemic among veterans

The shame is little is done. What can be done? JL

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I guess letting you all know I started a little blog would be better if I actually added the link! Sorry about that!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Our Letters From Japan

Well I am finally in Japan with my husband once more. We are only together for 30 days before he leaves again, but we are making the best of it, waiting for housing and trying to keep our spirits up!

I have started a blog as kind of an uplifting thing to keep my family and friends updated on our progress here in Japan. Its a new and scary road for us but we are making the best of it. Feel free to take a peek at what we are up to, it may not be action packed, but its our military life!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mike At War!

Mike at War is a new blog to follow Mike, Missy's brother, through the sandbox. I feel privilaged to know men and women who have served, men and women who have returned, young men that have lost their lives, and brave families who understand the concept of "Serving Their Country." Although I haven't served formally, I pay honor to the families who have served and who are serving. Also, I honor this day.

Recently, I received a lovely thank you from Soldier's Angels for donations. Also, I recieved a lovely letter from Diane Feinstein in regard to saving the Los Angeles V.A. and helping Veteran's. Anyway, check out the new blog.

Groovy- J

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"Bombshell contributor Ann Iverson has released a new collection of war poems called "Definite Space" available from Holy Cow Press

"Bombshell contributor Ann Iverson has released a new collection of war poems called "Definite Space" available from Holy Cow Press! Please support this book! Click the title to go to Holy Cow Press!

Congratulations Ann!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Homefront: Wireless Connection from the Ahwatukee Foothills News

August 9, 2007 - 12:17PM
HOME FRONT: Wireless Connection

Commentary by Missy Martin
I’m on my cell phone, wearing one of those posh white bathrobes I found hanging in the closet, at noon, leaning over the third floor balcony of my room in a New Hampshire hotel trying to get good reception, talking to my brother Mike who is calling from “Mortaritaville” in Iraq. Spread out below me is a sea of green, perfectly manicured grass and trees without the single stain of a brown blade of grass or a yellow leaf. Beyond the grounds lies a bay, where sailboats and small fishing boats drift back and forth past the mammoth colonial houses that line the granite coast. It’s an idyllic scene, which is why the gift shop downstairs is brimming with things like note cards, trivets and ornaments depicting it.

Mike has flown into Mortaritaville, officially named Camp Anaconda, in the volatile Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad, from his duty station in Kuwait. His convoy security crew was recently assigned a new vehicle, called an armored security vehicle or ASV, to replace their humvee. They’re at Mortaritaville to learn how to operate it. I know nothing about an ASV to feel either good or bad about it.

I ask Mike what he thinks of Mortaritaville. He answers that it’s the first place where he’s seen a tree since he arrived in the Middle East a month ago (I choose not to brag about my view). I ask him if the camp is aptly nicknamed, and he tells me that sirens and loud-speaker announcements warn of mortar fire about three times a day, but admits that the camp is so large that he’s actually never heard the rounds explode or seen where any have hit. In fact when the last warning sounded, he was eating lunch in the dining facility, and without missing a beat, kept on eating.

I know from experience that our conversation will last about 30 minutes, the length of time it takes a 300-minute calling card to expire (the bulk of minutes are supposedly expended just making the connection) or the point at which the next soldier waiting in line for the phone will urge him to hang up.

When I hang up, I’ll get dressed and my family will drive in our rented car to Boston where we’ll meet my other brother Bill for seafood on Newbury Street. Bill is in town from Missoula, Mont., to learn about his new employer, Textron. Over clams and Sam Adams Summer Ale, I’ll repeat the conversation I had with Mike – the tree, the mortar fire, the ASV. We’ll compare the contents of care packages we’ve each sent. After dinner I’ll lobby Bill to join us again, but he’ll decline, apologizing that his week is booked with Textron business.

The next morning, while training in some Boston conference room, Bill will send this text message: “Textron makes the ASV.” The threads connecting my family to this war will pull tighter.

From my laptop on the desk, next to a bottle of sunscreen and a map to York Beach, I’ll learn that the Armored Security Vehicle is bigger and better than a humvee; that it promises “battle-proven protection” against small arms fire and roadside bombs. I’ll read specs on the vehicle’s survivability, mobility and firepower – a lot of technical jargon that means, in layman’s terms, it’s designed to ensure that soldiers come home.

When I return home, I won’t credit my week of spa treatments, restaurants, beaches, boats and sleeping in late for reducing my stress. It’ll be the armored steel hull and the ceramic composite expandable armor on Mike’s new ASV that does the trick.

Missy Martin is an 11-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident, mother of three and editor of Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront. Her brother, U.S. Army Specialist Michael Dunn, attended Arizona State University and graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in accounting and now provides security on convoys in and out of Iraq. He can be contacted at Spec. Mike Dunn 7th Chem – APO AE09327.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I'm Sending Too Much!

Quick somebody stop me! Rumor has it, I am sending my husband too much stuff! It has almost become an addiction for me. Everytime I go into a store all I do is look for things I can buy him and send him, whether it be snacks, bathroom items, or magazines and books. My frivolous sending has turned him into a packrat, with 4 bags of sunflower seeds hidden in his locker, and candy bars here and there. He even has numorous stacks of books he probably won't even read.

I don't know why I feel this need to constantly send him goodies. I think it makes me feel better about our situation. The more comforts from home he has the better he will feel...that is my impression.

He told me a few weeks ago that sometimes when the mail comes in, some of his friends think a package is for them, but it always ends up being for him. He said it makes him feel bad. I could understand this, so I started sending packages to his friends as well! I even send packages to his friends who are now on other orders and other ships!

I was just wondering if I'm nuts or if anyone else sends countless flatrate boxes full of who knows what??

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rest in Peace Elizabeth Smith

My aunt Liz died Saturday night in a plane crash. Her story from Bombshells is included in this blog. Liz was on a great adventure with her 78 year old friend. They were on a one month trip through Alaska flying to small airports, camping under the wing of the plane and the stars and enjoying life. I imagine if Thelma and Louise were seniors, they would be like my aunt and her friend. Click the title to access a news link.

She was due home today, Sunday, but the plane crashed on their last stop and Liz is no more. This is Liz at 15, right when she met Garry.

Liz was 73. She lived through the Great Depression, married Garry Smith and soon after he was drafted to Korea... Her tale follows. For me, she was a great symbol of pride, strength, fearlessness and independence. She and her friend also went to Russia last year and many other adventures. She died on another great adventure. She was a pilot, a mother and a true friend.
This is a picture of Garry in Alaska during the conflict with Korea.
Korea, Korea, Korea
Liz Smith

We met at fifteen and seventeen, and fell in love the very day we said hello. We dated, took wonderful car trips, walked the beaches and hills, and danced to the big bands at the Hollywood Palladium. When Garry graduated from high school, he replaced his old 37 Chrysler with a snazzy 1947 Buick convertible, and we were in heaven.
Yet this strange echo reverberated in the background: Korea, Korea, Korea. We didn’t know quite what it meant, but we had just finished World War II, and didn’t worry about another war.
But then our friend George surprised us with the news that he’d joined the Navy. In unison, Garry and I responded “WHAT?” George urged Garry to look at his draft number – it was next to be called up.
“Oh my god!” we both thought. We studied our options. Garry didn’t want to join the Army and serve during the freezing winters in Korea. Since all the Navy billets were filled in the towns adjoining ours, we raced to Lancaster where Garry enlisted and was sworn into the Navy. We eloped on Garry’s leave from boot camp.

The first three months were wonderful. We lived in San Diego in a Travel Court for $13.00 a week. Falling asleep in my sweetheart’s arms every night was a dream come true. Then one day Garry opened the door and I could tell by the look on his face that something was wrong. He handed me a large white slip of paper. Orders. He’d be shipping out in three days.
But it wasn’t too bad. His ship was delivering supplies to Alaska. While it was dangerous, as Russia was only a few miles off the coast of Alaska—ready to blow up any ship that strayed—it wasn’t Korea. And it only lasted six weeks. In fact, the experience was comical.
I moved out of the Travel Court and stayed in an old shed in the back of Garry’s parents’ property. Every time Garry’s ship stopped at a port along the west coast, he would hitchhike home for a visit, and then I would drive him back to the ship. Once Garry’s dad had to put him on a plane back to San Francisco. He said, “Garry, please don’t hitchhike from Alaska.”
When the mission ended, Garry and I moved back into a room at the Travel Court. Then Garry received new orders. This time they said: Korea.
I moved back into the shed until winter came and it was too cold to sleep there. Then I slept on the sofa inside my in-laws’ house. I filled my days by working at J C Penney Company, and I learned to paint, wallpaper and garden, helping Garry’s parents remodel their house. At night I’d write passionate love letters.
Our love grew stronger while Garry was away, and we talked of having a baby. When the day arrived for him to return home, I watched his ship sail into the horizon. When it docked the Admiral himself congratulated me on the fastest run up a gangplank in high heels.
Finally, I was in Garry’s arms again. I became pregnant at once, no doubt about ten minutes after we checked into the motel. We rented a garage apartment in a San Diego suburb, and furnished it with the best stuff the Goodwill store had to offer. When the baby finally arrived, Garry thought she was the greatest miracle in the world. He adored her, and everyday after work he’d bound up the outside stairs two or three at a time shaking the whole apartment. He’d open the door, give me a kiss and go straight to the bassinette to pick up his daughter and hold her.
One day his steps were slow. When he opened the door I thought a ghost was standing in his uniform. He said, “I have orders to go back to Korea.” He’d be shipping out in three days.
“No! You served your time!” I cried, wondering what would happen to the baby and me. I was only 19 and didn’t know anyone in San Diego. I cried all night.
We decided that I would stay in the apartment and pray the war would end early, and peace talks would work, and Garry’s tour of duty would be cut from a year to nothing.
I had $167.10 a month to live on. The apartment without gas and lights was $65.00 a month, and I had no idea how to I would stretch the funds to cover the rest of my expenses. I swore I would never borrow money from anyone. The baby was on Pet milk and canned foods so I bought all she’d need at one time, so I would not run out. The store was within walking distance and for 15 cents I could take the bus to the naval hospital for my baby’s monthly checkups so I could save the car for emergencies only, spending only about $1.25 a month on gas.
Loneliness and despair encased my life. I ran to the mailbox each day but the Navy held up mail until the operation was over. At least I had Garry’s first letter, and I read it over and over:

July 18,1952

Hello my precious little one,

I love you with all my heart. Oh Sweetheart, its evening now and I’m so lonesome and heartsick for you as I begin this first letter of our separation. I can’t express to you how bad I felt as we said goodbye at the ship. I wanted to tell you so many things but I could hardly talk, after I kissed your tear filled checks and our sweet little baby. Oh honey it was all I could do to keep from breaking out crying. Darling, it would have been torture for me if you and little Linda had stayed and watched the ship leave the dock. Oh God, Liz when I walked away from the car I could hardly stand it. I looked around once and almost cried, it was so awful watching you and my tiny baby driving away without me. I knew I had to hold myself together, yet I wondered if it were possible when I reached the ship and went aboard and looked around again and you were gone, and the terrible realization of being separated swept over me. The feeling I had can’t be written in words or said; only our good Lord knows what was in my aching heart. Oh darling, I could never go through another goodbye like that again and be the same. You just can’t take two things from a man’s life that he loves more than life itself and expect him to be the same. I knew, my precious, what being separated from you was like before I left this morning, but today I not only said goodbye to one of great love, but two dearly beloved one’s in my life. Yes, my darling the terrible experience of saying goodbye is over, but the more terrible separation remains. I just hope and pray God helps me enduring these long days and nights of loneness. He gave me the most wonderful and perfect wife and baby in the world so I truly believe he’ll watch over me now.

Well darling, the first thing they told me when I came aboard ship this morning was that I have the watch starting at 8:00 so I went below to our quarters, put on my undress jumper and went to the radio shack. There wasn’t anything for me to do so I just went outside and walked around taking my last look at San Diego and thinking of the wonderful happy year we’ve spent here together. As the time draws closer and closer to our departure from this Harbor I kept thinking of you and the baby and wondering if you were all right after being so terribly upset and heart broken, then at 10:00 o’clock, we took in the mooring lines and slowly moved away from the dock, and I just stood looking at San Diego and thinking of the day we would return. Oh precious, I miss you and the baby so very much. I went to the movie tonight but I couldn’t keep my mind on the picture so I left when it was half over and got out my paper and ink and started this letter. Taylor asked if he could see the pictures of Linda again that I have in my wallet so I showed him the big pictures instead and he sure thought she was a doll. I’ve showed quite a few guys her pictures and most of them complemented me on our sweet little girl. Honey you tell “bumpy” that her daddy is very happy over his cake and is going to enjoy it on the mid watch Sunday night. I’m saving it just especially for then. Well darling it’s about time for lights-out so I’ll bring my letter to a close for now. Be careful and remember I love you and Linda with all my heart and think of you all the time. Goodbye my love and God Bless you both.

Your Very Loving Husband, Daddy, Garry

Early one morning, around three o’clock, I awoke to a knock on the door. I peeked out and saw two uniformed men. When I opened the door and discovered they were San Diego police officers, reporting that a drunk driver had just hit my car, I fell to the floor in a near faint. The officers assured me that the car could be fixed, but I explained, “I thought you were here to tell me my husband had been killed in Korea.”
The year passed, and my little baby grew into a little girl, and I had grown up in many ways, too. When Garry’s ship returned I held our daughter’s tiny hand and together we walked the gangplank to welcome her daddy home. There was no race in heels to win this time just the sure new walk into the journey of our lives.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Comforts of Home-- Missy Martin-- Ahwatukee Foothill News

HOME FRONT: The comforts of home

Commentary by Missy Martin
Ordinarily I hate fast food. I once rented the movie Supersize Me to help indoctrinate my kids against it. A few days after watching it, we drove past a McDonald’s where an ambulance was parked out front. The kids all gasped, certain that someone had bitten into a French fry and suffered a heart attack. The other day, while I was out of town, my husband, who is not nearly as zealous as me, suggested the family go to Burger King for dinner. “Nooooo!” the kids all shrieked, fearing for their lives. They lobbied for an organic peanut butter and jelly sandwich at home.

But ever since my brother Mike deployed, I find my hard line softening.

In his first e-mail home, Mike described driving into Camp Virginia, Kuwait, his duty station while at war. Sand was blowing so fiercely he could hardly see in front of him. Yet, to his delight, he managed to spot a McDonald’s in the middle of the small camp.

He also mentioned a conversation he had with a soldier from the unit Mike’s company is replacing. The soldier related that their trucks had been hit with roadside bombs about 150 times in the past year. As Mike will now be among the company of soldiers providing convoy security on Iraq’s deadly roads, suddenly the thought of him sitting in a McDonald’s, eating a Big Mac and fries, actually seems like a safe and reassuring place to be.

This war is making a hypocrite out of me.

Recently I took my kids to the Arizona Science Center to see Body Worlds 3, an exhibit of real human bodies that have been preserved after dying from diseases. We muddled our way through all the skin, muscle and bones to the display of black lungs where I warned my kids to stay away from tobacco, or else! Yet, in assembling the first care package to send to Mike, I drove to the grocery store, with kids in tow, for the express purpose of buying Copenhagen chew.

And chips. And candy-flavored with high-fructose corn syrup, colored with artificial dyes – more things I routinely preach are hazardous to your health. We bought four Goliath-sized bags of Mike’s favorites.

At the post office, I waited in a long line and filled out the customs form, declared the value of the contents in the box (Copenhagen = $6.74, Jolly Ranchers = $2.99, my 7-year-old son Merrick’s description of his future invention to detect roadside bombs = priceless). I felt immeasurably pleased because Mike would be receiving these “comforts from home” in only a week to 10 days.

But then the kind postal clerk with the soft, sweet voice ruined my mood when she said, “I hate to ask, but….”

I expected the perfunctory “anything-liquid-toxic-flammable-perishable” questionnaire. Or possibly, “any obscene pictures, bulk Christian or anti-Islam material, or pork?” (None of this is allowed).

Instead she said, “In case of non-delivery would you like this package returned, or to go to the chaplain?”

“Non-delivery?” I replied, puzzled. “Why wouldn’t it…?” But then I remembered where it was going, and got it.

Missy Martin is an 11-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident, mother of three and editor of Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront. Her brother, U.S. Army Specialist Michael Dunn, attended Arizona State University and graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in accounting and now provides security on convoys in and out of Iraq. He can be contacted at Spec. Mike Dunn 7th Chem – APO AE09327.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tips on sending stuff to Iraq:

Energy Bars
Tobacco products
Squirt Guns
Comfort Items

Use flat rate boxes-

Declare: Find out if you can send tobacco legally before declaring it.

Alcohol is illegal as are pork products. If you send contraband... you could get them in trouble.
Spam and vodka are probably not the greatest idea--

Please add any suggestions-

Friday, June 22, 2007

Home Front: Hate the war? Love the warrior from the Ahwatukee Foothills

June 19, 2007 - 2:49PM
HOME FRONT: Hate the war? Love the warrior

Commentary By Missy Martin
Last week I traveled to Fort Polk, La., to see my brother Mike, and the rest of the 7th Chemical Company, off to war. For the next 15 months they’ll log miles all over Iraq, providing convoy security. Mike’s job is to drive a Humvee while a gunner mans the 50-caliber machine gun mounted on top of the truck. Their buddy in the passenger seat will lookout for assorted threats. It’s no secret that Iraq’s roads are the most dangerous in the world; roadside bombs account for the vast majority of troop casualties.

The guys in Mike’s company are actually chemical operations specialists, trained to detect nuclear, chemical and biological agents in the air and on the ground. They could argue that “convoy security” is not in their job description. But soldiers do what’s asked of them. They’re a special kind – people who voluntarily give up their liberties and put their lives on the line for the benefit of others.

Regardless of our feelings about the war, I think we all should cherish our warriors.
Some of the soldiers I met at Fort Polk talked about how they’ve been personally touched by the kindness of strangers. Even though polls show that most Americans oppose the war, it doesn’t stop people they don’t know from approaching them in public places, patting them on the back and offering to buy them something like a burger or soda to show appreciation for their service.

Perhaps no one supports our troops like the folks in Bangor, Maine ( The Bangor airport is often the last stop on American soil for military planes heading oversees, and the first stop for troops returning from war. Ever since the first Gulf War in 1991, Bangor residents have made it their mission to greet every unit that comes through – often in the middle of the night. They offer food, the use of phones and overwhelming gratitude. Mike’s plane stopped in Bangor on June 5. He called me from the airport and confirmed that indeed the soldiers were thunderously greeted like rock stars.

Some of the soldiers, including Mike, said the celebrity-like attention embarrasses them. They don’t see themselves as special – they’re just doing their job, they say. But I think they deserve the love and more.

Especially when there are people out there, like the real celebrity Rosie O’Donnell, who just as thunderously dole out undeserved hate. Recently, she smeared our troops by implying that they’re terrorists. It’s her right to say whatever she wants – it was earned through the sacrifice of veterans – but she has no insight to judge the intent on every soldier’s heart and mind. She’s the one who should feel embarrassed.

Some people excuse Rosie because she donates oodles of money to children’s charities, a loving act indeed, though not a sacrifice when you’re rich like her. I’m more impressed by the folks who reach into their pocket for a couple of bucks to buy a soldier a cup of coffee. Like soldiers, these kinds of people are pretty special too.

Missy Martin is an 11-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident, mother of three and editor of Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront. Her brother, U.S. Army Specialist Michael Dunn, is a graduate of Arizona State University. He can be contacted at Mike Dunn 7th Chem – APO AE09327.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hard to Read...

Hey Everyone! I was starting to think that I was posting a little too much on here...and I certainly don't want to become annoying. However, I am a little lonely I will admit and it is so nice to have this place to post my thoughts and have other people who understand read them! I have to thank Jesse and Missy for creating this blog and allowing me an outlet.

What I wanted to discuss was the book. I was able to sit down and actually read the book the other day. After about 2 pieces in, I was finding it very difficult. I found myself getting really choked up. I don't know if it is because I know how each and everyone of these women feel or just because I miss my husband terribly? I just wondered if any of the other writers find it hard to read each individual piece? They are all amazing, and touch me deeply.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Ultimate Question

In the last week, my husband and I, although he is far away, have been faced with the ultimate decision. To stay in or not to stay in? While he still has approximately 3 years in, we have started to contemplate our options.
This is a harder decision than I would have thought. Surprisingly we are on completely different sides of the fence, and they aren't the sides you would think. He wants out, especially right now. He isn't liking carrier life, or being stationed overseas. No one likes deployment, that is not surprising, but he is getting fed up with being away from home.
I of course want him here more than anything, but when I consider the idea in the long run, I have mixed feelings. The military has provided us with great stability and benefits that you do not see often in other careers. I don't like being away from him, but at the same time I like knowing that we will be supported and almost always know where we stand. I am in no way opposed to the idea of moving around the world with my husband! It sounds like fun to me.
I don't know if this is something that a lot of families struggle with because i've only been living in this world for about 2 years. This is all new to me. I don't want us to make the wrong decision because I am scared about what the real world may bring...but then again we could be living in the real thing right now. We might be living in a world that no one else could even begin to understand...

I'm not looking for answers, just looking to find some people who understand where i'm coming from.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Scroll down

New Pic of Mike in Missy's piece from below-
Also, don't miss the Memorial day contribution from syndicated columnist Debra LoGuercio!

Sometimes the deepest wounds can't be seen- a Memorial Day Tribute

Because I Say So
May 24, 2007
Debra LoGuercio

Sometimes the deepest wounds can’t be seen

On Memorial Day, we (hopefully) pause to honor those who’ve served our country, in particular, those whose lives were cut short in a visible way. Like returning home in a body bag. Or not at all.
Thankfully, most returned home in relatively better shape, scarred or missing limbs, and we honor them too. But what about those wounded in ways that can’t be seen? In some ways, those are the hardest wounds to heal.
My father suffered one of those wounds. He went into World War II as a second lieutenant, straight out of Bordentown military school, graduating at the top of his class and fluent in five languages. He went out of the war via an extended stay in a US Army hospital in Germany, babbling like a child, barely able to write his own name. It’s amazing the effect seeing your entire unit being blown to bits will have on your mind.
My father rarely spoke of it. He once told me it happened in some building or warehouse, during the Battle of Normandy. They heard German planes coming and hit the ground. The ack-ack-ack of bullets shattered the building. When my dad looked up, every single soldier in his unit was dead or dying. Outlining the place where he lay were two rows of bullet holes. He wasn’t even scratched.
It was his first and only maneuver, and it ended in disaster. Seeing his unit slaughtered utterly traumatized him. At 18, he was unprepared for what he saw in France. You see, back in the 1940s, there were no gory war movies or video games to desensitize future soldiers to the sight of bullets exploding someone’s skull or a grenade turning a body to hamburger. They didn’t watch “Saving Private Ryan,” they lived it. Scraping your buddy’s intestines off your face can really do a number on your mind, long after you leave the battlefield.
Back then, they called it “Shell Shock.” Nowadays, we call it “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” – PTSD. Seems like in all this time, we could do better than come up with a label, like provide comprehensive psychological treatment for all veterans who’ve seen active duty. But in talking with soldiers who’ve recently returned from Iraq, it doesn’t seem like much has changed. No meaningful, intensive treatment for PTSD, just an honorable discharge, some pins on your chest and a shove toward the door to civilian life. Unless, of course, they can coerce you to reenlist first.
So, those with Shell Shock and PTSD muddle along as best they can. If they’re lucky, they learn to cope. My father wasn’t quite so lucky. True, he eventually “recovered” from Shell Shock (as far as the Army was concerned), and devoted himself to saving lives rather than taking them, and became a physician. On the exterior, all was well. The interior was another matter.
Years went by, he married, had kids, but his invisible wound continued to fester. He attempted to soothe it with alcohol, and was unable to recognize that ultimately, this only made it worse. As time went on, his thoughts and behavior became increasingly disturbed. He was consumed with the idea that enemies were perpetually after his family and it was his job to keep them at bay.
I vividly remember him coming into my room in the middle of the night and whispering, “Stay down. Keep quiet.” He’d close the door behind him and step down the hall. Soon, I’d hear his footsteps outside the window, slowly trudging around, and see his silhouette from the streetlight, his rifle at the ready. I chalked this bizarre behavior up to “alcoholic” or “paranoid” just plain “nuts.” It was only last year that someone snapped it into focus: “Don’t you see? He was still protecting his unit.” I felt like a lead weight was dropped onto my chest. For the first time in my life, I finally “got” him. He spent his life obsessing; making sure his “unit” didn’t meet the same fate as his first.
Was my dad’s wound disabling? Absolutely. Was his life cut short? Positively. Was his invisible wound ever acknowledged? No. You don’t get a Purple Heart for a wounded mind.
So, this Memorial Day, remembering the fallen. Remember the wounded. Rather than scramble to the mall to get that great deal on pillowcases, leave a flower on a soldier’s grave or say “thank you” to a veteran, even if he doesn’t have a wound you can see. Maybe particularly so.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Wetting of the Stripes

Happy Memorial day. I will be signing books at Barnes and Noble of Alisa Viejo on Memorial Day and remembering the lives lost.... My many relatives and the many I never met.

Doc will visit Dupes grave. Missy will be on her way to see her brother off for re-deployment. Here are pics of the ceremony, The wetting of the Stripes. Please look it up if you can, it's an amazing ceremony. More pics when I get back! JL

Chris invited me to his ceremony to "pin" him in his new rank of Non Commissioned Officer: Sergeant. The ceremony dates back to Frederick the Great. In prior days, you pulled the sergeant stripes off if the dead sergeant, pinned yourself and moved on. The ceremony is now a bit more civilized.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Picture of My Sailor

As promised, here is a picture of my husband, Jay. This picture was taken at the airport the day that he flew to Japan. It has been over a month since then and it already feels like a year. Sometimes I think you can see it in my eyes in this picture...I missed him before he was even gone.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Sailor

I wanted to take a few moments to tell everyone a little about my Sailor. We always hear they are being deployed and that they are working hard, but do we ever really hear what they are actually doing. It takes a lot of sweat and tears to keep an air craft carrier going, and I am proud to say that my husband is a part of that.

My Husband is a 3rd Class Petty Officer, and is part of the Hull Maintenance Department. He just recently finished what is known as "C" School for Welders. He finished in the top 5 of his class, making him a Super Welder. Along with many others in his division he is in charge of welding. What might there be to weld on a ship you might wonder? Well a lot of things, every single day. They will be the ones to get up in the middle of the night because of a break or a leak, and just might be responsible for saving the ship from going down.

This division is also mostly comprises the fire squad, which my husband has been a part of since he joined the Navy. On his last command he was team leader of his fire squad, but he has yet to take his place on his new ship. I have no doubts that he will work his way to the top again.

On top of all of this, he is a magnificent husband, and once we are together again he wants to be a magnificent father. That will come in due time. For now we just have a cat! Thank you all for your kind words. I truly appreciate them. Other than this, I will post pictures as soon as I can. I am without a computer of my own right now (I let Jay take mine on deployment!) so as soon as that happens the pictures will come. I promise.

Casey Nicholson.

Letter from Assemblywoman Wolk

Here's an excerpt from Lois Wolk, Assemblymember eighth district:

"...your book shines light on the homefront experience and what it means to be patriotic. The citizens of our region are fortunate to have someone with your talents and insight among them."

Lois Wolk
May 3,2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

Home Front: Calm Before the Storm - Ahwatukee Foothills News, May 9, 2007

(click the above title to activate link)
HOME FRONT: Calm before the storm

Commentary by Missy Martin
My brother Mike is going to war. He’ll do his part to provide security for convoys in Iraq by driving an armed Humvee.

I’m trying to muster the same “bring it on” fortitude to cope with his deployment that he and his fellow soldiers first exuded at their boot camp graduation. But soldiers’ families aren’t trained to fight on the home front even though we face enemies too – those of the psyche – things like fear, anxiety and depression. We figure out how to deal as we go.
Before Mike joined the Army he was my neighbor in this placid suburb, where the war was on our TVs, not on our radar screens. For all the war’s ideals and flaws, they were all too remote from our suburban lifestyle to identify with. The only oppression I ever fought was the letters I received from our homeowners association about the trampoline in our backyard.

I never fought for freedom or security for anybody. While our family was once the target of a “lawn job” when some teenager peeled out, leaving behind a 2-inch-deep skid mark, I could never imagine my family as the target of roadside bombs that leave behind 3-foot-deep craters and broken hearts.

My only beef with sand has been that it fills my kids’ sneakers at recess and then spills onto our wood floor when they remove their shoes after school; of course it never seemed relevant to worry about it jamming a weapon during an ambush. Now I need to expand my resolve to cope beyond the trials of my suburb to those Mike will face in a combat zone.

For his pre-deployment leave, Mike packed his vehicle with every possession that would fit in it and drove for two days to my house, where I’ll store everything in the garage while he’s at war. On the day he was due to arrive, my three kids spent the morning making 12 “welcome home” cards and laid them out on his bed. Then they perched themselves in the backyard fort that overlooks the block fence so they could see every car that turned into our neighborhood.

When they finally spotted his shaved head behind the wheel of his gray SUV they bypassed the fort’s ladder and leapt to the ground, where they ripped a trail to the front yard and greeted Mike with literal jumps for joy.

For the rest of the day we sat on the patio and drank beer, barbecued steak and listened to Mike’s favorite songs programmed into his iPod. The kids asked questions. “How will you get there?” and “Are you scared?” Mike used the kids’ toy machine gun to demonstrate how soldiers are trained to clear rooms. The kids played the bad guys; lying in wait with their own plastic pistols cocked, but Mike’s technique prevailed every time. I felt glad.
The weather was perfect, the grass was green and lush, blooming plants splashed bright colors throughout the yard. Birds were chirping and we all could smell the orange blossoms.

We sat relaxed, enjoying ourselves, laughing and watching airplanes make contrails in the cloudless sky long into the night when a one bisected the moon. My husband brought out the telescope.

I’ve etched this day in my mind and hope in my darkest moments of worry it will supercede any visions of Mike in a violent combat zone. Soon he will be on a plane en route to a war defined by conflicting arguments whose validity in terms of our national interest, our soldiers’ interests and my personal values often leave me confused about my own position on the war.

But there’s one thing I know for certain: when Mike arrives “over there” he’ll be ordered to write a so-called “If you’re reading this” letter, a note every soldier writes and families receive only if their soldier is killed. All of the political chatter will be muted by the single-minded chorus of my family’s prayers to never receive that letter, and to see Mike come home again to spend another day drinking beer on the patio beside lush green grass, while the birds chirp and airplanes make contrails in the peaceful blue sky.

--Missy Martin is an 11-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident, mother of three and editor of Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront. Her brother, Michael Dunn, is a graduate of Arizona State University and a U.S. Army Specialist about to be deployed to the Middle East.

Friday, May 11, 2007

TDY: An open letter for Mother's day--update at end

Doc went TDY about 2 weeks ago, and when he did, I am pretty sure I build a static wall around myself of not feeling. It was only tonight, after two weeks of "down time" that I realized I had made quite a shield. I guess I am good at it. It makes me wonder if that is how I made it through the long deployment... Half dazed, half anesthetized. This is sheer speculation and a little Alaskan Amber talking here, but I wonder how many military wives and military girl friends go through the time a little numb to feeling but at the same time they are really self sufficient and great at:

a. putting other people first.
b. acting invinsible
c. tireless when it comes to helping others, and seldom asking for what they want.

Does any of this sound familiar?

I remember thinking.... in 2005, that I could be strong and "be there" no matter what. Of course the "no matter what" was such an unknown thing. In a way, how could I think otherwise? I was pretty naive....

It's hard to believe, but May 5th was our 2 year anniversary of getting together and neither of us mentioned it. I am not sure if we even spoke on the phone. I think we have known each other now for 7 years now....

The thing is, that with great risk comes great things... sometimes it is too much. If the only thing I had to worry about was Doc, it would be one thing, but my life has had its own twists and turns lately, and what can I do except try to cope? I have work, kids, a house payment, goals, and all are really important. It's quite complex.

I think it is hard to be true to yourself when things are bigger than you. To me, PTSD is bigger than I am, but right now, I need to be quiet in a garden reflecting on healing. It's a really strange time.....

With all that said, the couples struggling with deployment are going through their own crisis, and the thing about war is, when the tour of duty is over, for many of us, all the real battles have just begun. Just the battle of the VA was epic! The struggle to figure it out the survivor's guilt is another dimension. My speculation is that being Air Force or Navy is scary, but just not the same as air assault infantry or any of the Marine troops whose main job is to daily engage the enemy. Every job is important, every job, but I believe the Infantry medic type job is a recipe for great satisfaction and great mental burden.

When Doc came back he had tremendous survivors guilt, which occurs with every war, but this war's anonymity of IEDs really makes for a mind **** on guilt. I mean," if you were in one seat of the hummvee, then moved, and a bomb blew, it was meant for you,...... You should have died right?" That's survivor's guilt and it really sucks. The reason I was able to deflect it like teflon was my own experience. My twin sister died when I was a baby and I grew up with a heavy case of survivor's guilt. When I was going through it, I had no perspective on it and could only feel the burden. As I got counseling and spoke to someone who could help me name it and deal with it, I was able to put it away and learn that none of it was my fault. It just is.

It just is. I think "it just is" is a hard concept to grasp when society is always trying to make connections for us when there are none. For many people, "it was meant to be" serves the same purpose of perspective, but I find purer understanding in "it just is" and it isn't anyone's fault....let it go-

I think my own situation gave me the grace and strength to see Doc through his.

One thing I have learned is that things don't make sense, and trying to make sense out of them is like forcing puzzle pieces together from different puzzles. It can be done, but it isn't right. It is best to let it go. Let it go.

A place of strength isn't always a place of combat and engagement. It's hard to learn that sometimes being quiet, settled, peaceful about just being is the greatest place of strength. I think there are many faces of support, but one has to support the self too. Maybe it's like the oxygen masks on a plane. You have to put your own on in order to help others.

Anyway, be strong ladies, be strong because your life and other lives depend on it. Be strong and Happy Mother's day.

5/14/07- He's back, looks great and has a new tattoo. I will post pics if he doesn't mind!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Two Weeks Ago...

Two weeks ago my husband left once again. We have only been married for 8 months and he is once again gone. When I wrote my original piece for the book he was on his first Westpac Deployment and we were only engaged. This time we are married and have spent the last 7 1/2 months in complete bliss together while he attended C-School to become a Super Welder.

He left on April 19th to go to Japan. He will be there for 5 weeks of indoctrination and then he will be out for deployment once again, this time for 8 months. I'm home with my parents this time. I truly had no desire to be alone in Japan for that long. While I am excited to go eventually, it is something I want to experience with him.

I'm not as happy as I was last month, thats a given. But my family has made every effort to make me feel comfortable and at home. My parents even remodeled my room, which turned out beautiful. I'm grateful for everything they have done. Even my grandmother got me a teddy bear that is dressed as a sailor to be my stand in "Jay." She always thinks of something.

Right now all we have is email because he doesn't have an address. This will also make it impossible to send him a birthday gift which will be in a few weeks. It will also be his 3rd birthday away from home, and his 3rd summer away from me.

Although it isn't very positive, this is my update. This is where my life is right now.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Here Kitty-kitty

My cat was missing.

OK, DOC DOESN'T REALLY LIKE CATS, but my 26 toed cat, Yetti had been missing for a few weeks and we were all a little concerned. She's a basic tabby, but instead of stripes, she has bobcat spots and enormous feet due to her polydactyl nature. My daughter saw her gaunt form out by the trash cans. When she approached her, she loped away in a lopsided gait created by her collar that wrapped under one arm and around her neck. There was no way to know how long she had been caught somewhere by the collar or what had occured to have it slipall the way under one arm. I went out with the last can of catfood and a little patience. She was so light I think she lost half of her body weight on her little field trip.
At first I just tried to pull it over her head, but she growled fiercely when I tried. I turned her over to examine her and found a large wound under her arm and the collar was imbedded into her. There was no way to know how deep, how much pus, or anything. I just wanted scissors to cut the thing off. I thought it would be that easy. Part of the collar was scabbed over and oozy. It really stunk!
We fed her, Doc got his medic bag, and my daughter started calling UC Davis Emergency Vet Center.
I held her so as to control her claws and jaw. Doc opened two bags of saline and flushed the wound-collar site.
He used a scalpel to cut it away from her skin. We rinsed and rinsed and the stink made me gag. We turned her over, lifted her arm to see the damage and the entire underarm all the way to the neck was completely sawed through by the collar. You could see all the muscle. Anyway, the medic saved the day. He wanted to debride and suture her, but there was no way I was holding the kitty for that torture. I took her to the vet, they sedated her cleaned out the necrotic tissue and stiched her up. She is now in a dog crate in my room. I am glad Doc is home and Yetti too.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Peet's and an Oakland PS

Peet's was a blast, even though it was a slow night we still sold many books and had great conversations with people. Some military people that have served in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and even Vietnam came out. One nice lady has her son over in the sand box for the 3rd deployment. She really had a great perspective on it. She said her son signed up and is proud to serve and she is proud to be his mom. When he goes to work it is just like going to work in Oakland. I guess that is bad for the people that live in Oakland, but what she meant is that life happens. It's hard on people, but a good attitude makes the difference. For me, I learn from everyone that stops to talk to me. Last night I learned that some people are poised and gentle at all times and I hope to be more like that. Some people have had intense military experiences and they are ok, it took time, but they are ok. My family came out and helped too, which was fantastic. I feel very grateful.

OOOOPS_ Bad to slam Oakland..... For the first time EVER, I have to be in Oakland in the morning for an appointment... and the bridge melts.... Arrgh- It's too early to take the Capital Corridor train, and impossible to get the BART. If you have ever been down there.... I 80 to 580 is the direct route, and it's melted! OK, sorry Bay Area! J

Monday, April 23, 2007

Parties and Veteran Students

I posted a link to an article about Veteran's returning and going to college with that fancy GI Bill! If you have anyone around you that is a veteran, recently returned etc.. Please read it. Here's my brief story. My guy came back and was on fire to go to school. He started classes 3 weeks after getting home. I thought it was too soon, he could hardly wait! It went bad fast.. First, he was in pain, second, he couldn't remember when to go. Third, and worst of all, he had a political science teacher that would not shut up about how useless the war was. Hey, say that to a Purple Heart Veteran that has had to bury friends, who is trying to get a life back, one who would love to ambush you rather than listen to you... He dropped the class. The other class, Algebra...the math teacher wrote in red on the board, was too lazy to get an eraser and instead erased his equations with his hand then proudly showed that to the class, "hey, it looks like blood." It didn't go over well for my medic man. Who had already seen too much blood and blown up bodies. It had been three weeks since he patrolled the streets of Baghdad. He came home with his own injuries...
Veteran's are all different, especially in this nutty war... A supply clerk is likely to engage the enemy.... However, the Infantry, the SEALS, the absolute war PITBULLS of patrol, they have a longer way to go to get back to "Calm Labrador Retriever" status. OK, not maligning dogs here or Screaming Eagles, just mentioning that experiences are different. What if we put together an inservice for colleges on how to incorporate the veteran into classes. Please read that MSNBC article...It's long, but good.

Second- The Bombshells Party! Pretty Women, good books and fund raising for Soldiers! Please read the Bombshell Party entry and send me your great comments. In the meantime..
A heart warming video for the Veteran SOUL! or click this link! Party on! Click the heading to go to the link--


Spring 2007 - The lanky University of Wisconsin-Madison sophomore was searching for the keg when another partygoer spotted him.

Student Veterans- from MSNBC Click title to access whole article

“Everybody, this is Jake Warner,” he announced. “Jake was in the Marines and he’s been to Iraq,” he continued, his voice rising.

Oh shit, here it comes; Warner groaned.

“He’s killed people before!”

Warner’s smile evaporated. “Thanks,” he grumbled. “Thanks for that introduction.” But the damage had been done. His camouflage of anonymity, of normalcy was gone—he could no longer pass as a physics geek. He was the killing machine. He was the Marine.

This wasn’t exactly the picture of college life Warner had dreamed up—and for most war veterans, college never is. It’s not that they face the rabidly anti-soldier environment that Vietnam veterans did, but the transition from soldier—or airman or sailor or Marine—to student can be a strange and lonely trip any way you cut it. While some veterans want people to buy them beer and thank them for their great service to the country, most just want to feel normal. College is a chance for them to start over, to start fresh—but putting the war behind them is a complicated process,

(Click title to access link to whole article)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bombshell Party

I had this idea to have a celebration at the pub where my guy and I first started to "get together." The pub is special to me, I just love the place. I figured I would put a few fliers up and sell books. I wanted to make some money for Fisher House and Soldier's Angels, so I came up with an idea... Missy sent me some Bombshell dog tags... I bought party favor tins, silk rosepetals and made little special tag tins to sell. I sold them for 5 bucks, although they sure could have gone higher, and I sold a book and a tin for 15.00, that way money could go to both Fisher House and Soldier's Angels. BRILLIANT! Well, I wanted to raffle something, but didn't know how to do it. My friend Kaycee made raffle tickets and she let me know that when people fill out names, you collect their address if you want to do a mailing list. (hmmm, didn't think of that). I raffled off a thong that has the pink grenade and the words "Sergeant Major" printed on it. You can find the link to that site at the Bombshelter made page or look to my cafepress link on this site. Also, Although I didn't do it last night, I was offered to collect a dollar a song for a charity on Karaoke night. She suggested doing a 50:50 raffle, that way you don't have to start with a seed item and you still get to collect money for charity! WOW, I just never thought I could do something so simple and fun and help others at the same time!

There were a lot off ideas swimming in my head and I wanted to make money for charity, raise awareness about the homefront and sell 'Bombshells' books. Guess what! We should all be having those parties. It was so much fun! I did it in a bar, but could have been a church social. It could have just as easily been at a house party or a farmer's market. I could really see it happening at churches.... without the thong of course-
People came over and talked about their military backgrounds and it made for thought provoking conversations! One guy was being deployed in two weeks. It was great for non military people to hear from military people, not to talk politics, but to hear humanity. It was great.... A book party that raises awareness about the homefront and raises cash for Fisher House and Soldier's Angels. WOW, it was great. I am doing another one at Peet's Coffee in Vacaville this Wednesday from 5-8.
Peet's is giving a free drink if you come in between those hours! WOW

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mike's last day of predeployment leave

David and Mike on Mike's last day of "predeployment leave." No, Mike is not the husky guy with the buzz cut. He's the naughty one who grew a goatee on leave! Drinking beer from David's birthday gift of brand new "Git 'R Done" beer glasses, a gift from a staff member. At this point I'm thinking Jesse and I need to visit Christina Rauh Fishburne (an awesome, witty, writer) in Germany to discuss the homefront experience and test beer... (Missy)

OK folks, we are human here.
Missy drinks wine, emails about the wine and what is happening, or has a beer and emails about the beer... In order to stay in synch I keep the same stuff on hand and have some too. Sometimes I send Doc to the store for an emergency run! Ok, occasionally there's martini night, Alaskan ale night and red wine nights... I guess it depends on the music and the moment-- We work really hard, and with all that deployment, redeployment, injured veteran stress.... we find ways to let off steam.....

Now, Missy's brother Mike is off to the sand box. Missy has a great piece written about the last days with Mike before deployment, but we can't post it until it is featured in a paper first. Stay tuned for that. She also has an op/ed that is NY Times worthy...we'll see where that lands! We are working hard, but we are also loving and suffering--

Beyond that, what really hurts is the unknown, the unknown of how Mike is, wanting him not to be alone, wanting him to feel as safe and warm as we do in our homes. What hurts is the uncertainty and the love that continues even stronger into the unknown.
If you have a drink it tea, wine or beer, please raise a glass to Mike and say a prayer too.
I am crying writing this-

Monday, April 16, 2007

Support the Troops: Jeffe Kennedy

“Supporting our troops” is far more complex when you are personally connected to a soldier—when you feel like Mary Jony, a mother of an Army Ranger who writes, “the world has…shrunk to one man, one boy I want alive above all else.”

J E F F E KENNEDY’s Air Force father crashed his plane when she was only three. She writes about her journey twenty-five years later, along with her mother, to the site where he died. She finds the un-obvious low place in a silent cornfield, a spot that represents the painful truth that “sometimes people don’t come home.”

Most of the stories unfold with war as the backdrop—sometimes it looms, sometimes it wages, and sometimes it lingers from the past inside the writer’s house.

Some of the stories center on the concept of “home” itself, and the search for roots in a culture where home is constructed, and de-constructed around frequent relocations and deployments. Each woman, in her own words and style, tells a unique story, and collectively they illuminate the pathos of this unsung microcosm of American society....

Jeffe lives in Wyoming and writes, "It's such a relief to see a swallow as it should be--I feel restored to see it fly, black and tan shining against the sky. It seems a moment from a novel."
~Jeffe Kennedy, from Wyoming Trucks, True Love and the Weather Channel, University of New Mexico Press, March 2004

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront (Paperback)
by Missy Martin (Editor), Jesse Loren (Editor)

A Collective Spiritual Consciousness about War and the Women left at Home! , April 13, 2007
Reviewer: W. H. McDonald Jr. "The Military Writer's Society of America / Author of: A Spiritual Warrior's Journey" - See all my reviews

Rarely does an anthology contain such nuggets of wisdom, and pain as does this wonderfully edited collection of stories and poems by the women who are left behind at home during war. The book`s cover shows the image of a pink hand grenade that jumps out at you. The title is just as explosive, "Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront". Inside the book is even better and is filled with stories, essays and poems that will rip and shred your very soul! It is one of the most gripping books related to war that I have read.

The book was put together and edited by Missy Martin and Jesse Loren. It is a brilliantly done. The placement of the poems and stories is thought out well and it seems that the emotional energy just keeps building throughout the entire book. It is one of those books that you cannot stop reading.

There are many different and diverse voices contained in the book, which reflects again, some good editing choices. The book brings war into another level of thinking. War is not often viewed from the point of view of those who were left at home waiting for their loved ones to return; I often wondered what that would feel like when I was in Vietnam. When my own son was in the Gulf War in Iraq and I did not know his daily status, it almost drove me insane with worry. It hurts worse then being in combat yourself!

This book is an honest, compelling look at what these women went through while waiting fro their warriors to return. You cannot read this book without feeling your heart rip and break apart with their pain. This book transcends war -it is about people!

The Military Writer's Society of America gives this book its highest rating of FIVE STARS! It is a must read book! I give this my personal recommendation and fullest endorsement!

A portion of the sales from this book is donated to "The Fisher House Foundation". That foundation builds "comfort homes" on or near active military and Veteran Affairs medical facilities. The houses are provided for free for injured soldiers who must be close by for treatment. It is also open to their families.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bombshell Schedule so far etc.

BOMBSHELLS Party—April 21st at
The Irish Pub, Winters

Book signing Wednesday April 25, 5-8
Peet’s/ Vacaville Free drink with coupon-

Book signing Winters Youth Day Parade : April 28,
Friends of the Library table...

Sales and signing TAFB BX, Fairfield May, 9-12

Ok. Happy Easter-

Missy's brother is being sent back to the sandbox. She has writtten a fabulous personal account if it, and maybe we can post it after Easter. J

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Critique from New Zealand Reader

Hi Jesse;

I just finished "Bombshells". Congratulations. I'm really proud of
you. The writing is all first class, interesting, moving, powerful
without exception. I hope that this unique collection is widely
purchased and read because it certainly deserves to be. And I hope, as
you say at the end, that it's just the beginning of more along these
lines. Again, congratulations and great work.

All best from down under,


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Deep Sea Fishing in Mexico

Doc went to Mexico to deep sea fish. It took 4 hours to cross the border back. Hopefully he has many fish, I'll eat them, he won't eat them! as soon as there are pics, I'll post them. He fished, drank beer and played cards for 3 days.

Thank you to the folks out there reading the books and writing reviews! I am hoping Missy and I can sew up summer book tour stuff soon.

My best bud from Grad school came up and we made spoken word MP4s, which probably sounds interesting to some people.... I'll let you know. I made an Mp4 of two of the poems in BOMBSHELLS. I'll try to do another, but I am not quite ready to post it. Any interest?
I am not sure how to post an MP4 file, but that is what I have. I make a recording of Infantryman and At Night Stars Forget. I can probably send them to you if you email me.

So, if Missy and I do a west coast tour, mainly near bases, where should we make sure to stop?
PS, not entering this as a new post... Doc is back. He is happy with fish tacos. He came back hairy and tanned, and with the deep glow that men have when they win the war of man against nature. He is very proud of his fishified conquest! I have eaten 4 fish tacos, and after a few hour break, I am on my way to have more.

I don't know what all of it is...Lincod? fish? It all looks like fish. So what else can I make aside from fish tacos?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Voices of the Fallen

My auntie sent me this. Voices of the Fallen from Newsweek:

Things are going well. Doc changed units and is now non-deployable. I have been busy with work, and I had a fabulous weekend. I went to Napa to see William and Mary Shea . William was in the play "South Pacific" and was a captain. If you don't know the play, it is based in WWII on an island. It has themes of love and hope, along with the unknown, racism and fear. It's clear that many of the same issues from that time period are still alive and well. No pics though. J
Some of you might know that the book is dedicated to Mary Shea...
I have two signatures from the book, now I just need 34 more~

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mondavi Center- Davis California

Frank Rich and Tony Kushner- What an amazing combination- It was great- I took copious notes- More later-
Much talk of war, media
The Theater of Politics and the Politics of Theater

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Chronicle writer, Justin Berton, wrote a great article about a project to bring web support to the soldiers in the field. Click the link to read the article. The guy, Mike, that is interviewed is my guy's friend. His blog is listed on the link section of this blog. At any rate. It helped me understand so much about Army attitudes in the field. Please check the links. And if you read something that informs you, or resonates with you send it to me.

Also, I posted a beautiful pic of Missy and her man, but it came out funny on my end. I followed the usual proceedures for uploading pics, and that's what happened. HELP

Last, I have had literally hundreds of people look at the blog, and many send me an email comment, but don't post comments. If you read and want to comment, just do it. Send me an email and I will try and help you, but it might be the blind leading the blind. At least we can do it together.

Upcoming: The path of waiting
Also, hopefully, Missy will write about getting submissions for Bombshells.....

MISC. Pics I want to share from my family album-- Click on the pics to enlarge!

My daughter collected Beany babies and we sent them to Doc's unit in Iraq. This particular one was "Pinky and Tom" and my daughter wanted to make sure they kept their names. Doc saw this beautiful kid and got a pic to show my daughter.

Doc and I at a Scotish Festival- When will he get that kilt! Click on the picture and read the bracelet. How many men wear these? He always has it on. I think he wears other bracelets on the inside.

My favorite cat in the whole wide world! She is 16, ratty, too thin, meows constantly, everyone at my house hates her, but I love Phoebe!

If I had a Bombshell picture, this would be it! Paula, Tozier's GF took this pic on July 4th.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bombed: Christina Now with PICS

I'm not sure which is more exausting: the guilty quasi-employed do-nothing-days; waiting for emails, phone calls, letters; can't sleep cuz his side is empty; can't sleep cuz I hate waking up; hundreds of tuna fish sandwhich meals; insatiable DVD collecting; eyeball paralysis after reading for hours and hours; YES I'D LOVE TO GO acceptance to any and all invitations to pass the time as much as enjoy friends' company; darkness of the downstairs bathroom because I didn't know how to change that weird light's bulb; driving everywhere alone; constant assurance that I had the cell phone that hardly every rang; telling family that I still hadn't heard from him and knew nothing--
The I can't sleep cuz he's right here and I want to look at him and touch him; loaves and fishes laundry piles; can't finish the dishes cuz he's tickling me; going places to show people he is indeed back; suddenly realizing I DO have stuff to do and not being able to accomplish anything because there are way better things to do, like watch him play computer games; and the overall realization that 2006 is finally frikken over and real life can go on.
Except real life isn't all kisses and vacation time. I know this in my brain, but it hasn't really kicked in yet. Because since February 7th real life has basically been kisses and vacation time. But that will end next week. The vacation time anyway...I hope the kisses stick around for a while... Long story short: there's no job to go back to and by this summer we'll be somewhere else in Germany. this could be good or bad. In true Army fashion: we don't know a blasted thing.
I'm tired most of the time. I force myself (or he does) out of bed at 8 and am good for nothing by 2 in the afternoon. It's like last time: Sam came home in March after being gone a year, I graduated, we got married, and then I sort of slept for 3 months straight. Only now I can't use graduating stress and wedding stress as excuses for my limpness. In my self-counseling moments I say it's recovery from the year plus of anxiety, and it very well may be. In my fantasy moments I suggest to myself that I might pregnant. More frequently though I tell myself it's because I need to exercise more and eat better.
I'm reading Bombshells--not just my own bit (which seems pretty stupid now that I'm reading everyone else's). I've been so excited about this: finally getting something published. Oddly enough, all that stuff the FRG guys tried to prepare me for, all that reintegration be-prepared-for-let-downs-and-depression, it-won't-be-like-you-expected stuff, hasn't applied so much to my soldier being home as it has to the essay. And if I had to choose, I'd rather it be a bunch of words than my marriage. Still I didn't expect it. it was so thrilling to see MY name on the Contents page with the real writers. I'm completely out of place with them--serious-writer-wise and in most cases, experience-wise. Aside from one scary phone call made after the fact, my biggest moment of fear was hearing a knock at the door, seeing the ACUed form of a single man holding a piece of paper, brain quickly processing one guy in ACUs, no Chaplain, Sam is hurt but still alive, only to have it be a guy Sam worked with telling me I'd gotten a speeding ticket.
While I guess I feel the "sisterhood" or whatever with the other women in the book, I am more humbled and honored to be heard with their voices than I am proud of myself for being heard. I'm proud to see Sam's name and Christopher's name among the others'. The brothers-

Friday, March 09, 2007

A homefront story sent to Bombshells-

A little background on me. My family has been and will always be pro-military. In fact, I was considering enlisting in the Air Force at the time I met Shawn, but he promptly shot that down, stating, "No girlfriend of his was joining the military," he knew what the guys were like. In the years since we were married he had regretted his words, trying to convince me to join, but when I became pregnant with our fourth child I asked him to drop the subject because there were more important matters to look after, our four kids. And now my writing career is starting to take off.

Our kids, three boys and one girl. Twin eight year olds, 4 year old daughter, who is the light of her father's eyes, and Daddy's Mini-Me, he is 3. They have made this deployment easier to cope with and the toughest job on the earth because of it. They're young enough not to realize what kind of place their father is in, to blissfully continue on with their lives, but old enough to feel his absence. While most of the families in our unit count down the days by marking holidays, I have chosen a less emotional method, we take it one day at a time, one week, and one month. We focus on the here and now, and let God worry about tomorrow. We adhere to the verse, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Luke 12:25)

Most of the families in our unit have close family ties where they live. My family is one of the few that does not. We live in Illinois; our families live four hours away in Iowa. It's a blessing and a curse. But since moving here, I have made close friends who are like my family. When problems arise, and they always do during a deployment, my friends are there to help in any way they can. But there are things that they just can't replace, like having my husband here.

His mobilization didn't come as a surprise to us. For three years we were expecting it, but three years ago, we, like many families in 2003, were without a good paying job and place of our own. Shawn's desire to return to school to be a teacher led him to a Federal Technician job on an Illinois National Guard base where he could use the state's tuition program to pay for his schooling. The unit he transferred out of was deployed shortly thereafter; we had dodged that bullet. He had transferred into a new unit—the government requires they be in existence for two years. The moment they celebrated their second birthday they were handed their orders. And our eight months of preparation began.

We were criticized for telling the kids too early about Dad leaving, but those who had would never understand, our kids needed that time to prepare just as much as the adults did. Our kids are sharp, they would have realized quickly something was going on and they needed to know from us.

Friends learned of the morbid discussions we had, death and all that remains from it are never easy, but the fact of war is the possibility of death. Shawn knew exactly what I was going to do with the life insurance and what I would do if he never came home. The kids were also covered in that event, something I would never have to worry about thankfully. He also knew that I wouldn't be so easily swayed by anyone's offers, which is why when he left he didn't have to worry about me. I was taken care of financially, as I'm the home financer—he actually gets his allowance from me, and he's the accountant. If there were problems with the house, all I had to do was make a call to his boss and someone from the base would come out. A local landscaping agency takes care of our ½ acre yard—that's a lot to mow with a push mower.

Shawn stated over the phone one day after a particularly hard week with the kids: his job is a cakewalk compared to the one I have back at home. While he works six of the seven days, he knew my job was compounded by the fact I was also trying to be a father on top of my already hard job of being a mother. I've been told I'm strong, but I've had to be when I didn't want to be.

Shawn's year started when he touched down in Kuwait in the middle of September, two weeks later he was in Iraq. In that time, we have experienced many firsts, our first birthdays without him, our first Thanksgiving, Anniversary, Christmas, Valentine's Day without him, and soon to be, Easter, Father's Day and the Fourth without him. You noticed I didn't say Mother's Day. He was fortunate enough to choose his own leave dates and he'll be home then. I've had some of my best news for my writing without him here to tell first. Milestones in our youngest are missed. Things the kids say that make you die laughing, he's missed, but that's not unusual, seeing as they tended to do it when he was working anyway. But he lucked out when he married a writer, because I can describe in detail what he missed, and it's almost as if he was here to experience it himself.

But what makes this whole deployment worthwhile are the people who bend over backwards to remind me just how thankful they are for my family's sacrifice and for Shawn's service. Those are the people that don't get enough airtime on TV, but they are the reasons why we do what we do.

That in a nutshell is my story. While it could be more, I know I'd easily fill ten pages, the curse of being a fiction writer. ☺
Thanks for letting me tell it.



Thursday, March 08, 2007

Casey Nicholson- Ongoing homefront with Sailor!

We were married September '06 when he returned from a 6 month deployment, and
immediately moved to San Diego, where we have been ever since. Our
first 6 months of marraige have been incredible and memorable. This
is all about to end however.

My husband has been stationed overseas and will be deployed again only
2 weeks after we were to move overseas. Because of this I will be
staying in the states with my family, while he is gone on a 8 month

Sadly we will not get to spend our first anniversary
together, and only half of our first year of marraige together. Just
when we were getting settled in San Diego, we were assigned to go to
Japan, and now I have to get ready to live in Michigan again.
Thankfully I have the support of my family, they are behind us one
hundred percent. Casey-

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Missy and Mike (Excerpts)

This is Missy and her Man- What a Bombshell!

Graduation for Mike

From Bombshells:
....From the parking lot I could see Bravo Company’s graduating class standing in formation outside the hall where they’d soon be honored for completing 19 weeks of basic and advanced training. Mike’s last letter said he’d lost 30 pounds, and when he stepped from the line to greet me, indeed I could see that the training had erased a decade of gluttony and sloth. I reached out to grab his arm but missed the flesh and grasped only the cool rigid fabric of his fatigues. This ominous empty-handedness sent panic to my heart, and though I promised I’d stay composed, I started to cry smearing black mascara under my eyes in a conflicting mess representing both the ecstasy of seeing Mike safe and within arm’s reach, along with the agonizing fear I’d been nurturing since the day he’d enlisted, that one day I could lose my brother in combat.

....I slipped into the ladies room to fix my makeup joining two women who were also fussing with their looks in front of the mirror. A mother from Texas dabbed powder on her forehead to absorb her perspiration, and then smiled in the mirror as though she needed to practice. When I complimented her alligator boots, she said they hurt her feet, but admitted that sore feet were the least of her pain. Ever since her son had joined the Army she could barely climb out of bed, she said; in fact on this day it took all the strength she could muster to dress up and keep her hand steady enough to apply lipstick without drawing all over her face....

...Mike pointed out his comrades who had already received their orders to go to Iraq. They were laughing and gesticulating and seemed fortified with confidence. Oddly, I felt envious. Then a thought struck me that I haven’t let go: What if there was a boot camp for the psyches of every soldiers’ loved ones, a basic training to align our spirits with some battle creed that prompts in us a mechanical reaction to survive when our worst enemies—say fear, anxiety, and depression—threaten to eviscerate us?...

.... Currently, Mike is on standby for a new deployment-

Monday, February 26, 2007

Korea Korea Korea

Garry, Liz's husband while in Alaska with local kids waiting to be sent out to sea in Korea, not sure of the year.

This is Liz with her baby waiting for Garry. Liz writes....
".... The year passed, and my little baby grew into a little girl, and I had grown up in many ways, too. When Garry’s ship returned I held our daughter’s tiny hand and together we walked the gangplank to welcome her daddy home. There was no race in heels to win this time just the sure new walk into the journey of our lives."

> The WAR is very hard on those left behind, as in KOREA KOREA KOREA page 84, it only touches the very top of being alone....My husband sent over 600 letters home and his job in the service was as a Radio Operator for the Commander of the Amphibious Ships in the Western Pacific, he was on about 35 ships during his two tours of duty.He was never assigned to a special ship, it was where the Commander went to hold an operation, like landing at Inchon, transferring prisoners, training the Army and Marines how to debark from a ship without drowning as they did in France on D Day, moving supplies and equipment. Hard to believe in 1951 the only communication was Morse cell phone, no computers, no telephones on ships just Morse Code and Light and Flag signals..

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal

This start is an old post, which I saved as a draft because I thought it was just too depressing.... but....

I'm really tired tonight. Doc and I have been doing so much. He has returned to physical therapy, he's really sore, and he has duty this weekend which he won't miss. As much as this seems to be formal whining, it's really about hope. At first I just hoped that he would get back and we would have a chance to see where our relationship would go. Then, after he got injured, I just hoped that he would be alright. I was emotionally prepared to do whatever I had to do to accomodate his needs, and thank God, it has never been that bad. I hoped that he would not have permanant damage and even though it has been a year and some months, we still don't know. The spine has mysteries, and a rough deployment can affect the mind.
I have hoped that he would just remember to call me when away, and although his memory was horrible this time last year, he hasn't accidently left me in any parking lots for a longtime. He is stronger, lighter, funnier, cuter and more peaceful. Although he isn't leaping tall buildings with a single bound....he's better and getting better every day.
He has such a great smile that at times, no matter how strung up I am, I have to laugh, relax and refocus. Hope is a power that heals, a power whose unseen force can lift us up. I hope the soldiers are safe tonight. J

It's been about a month since that post. Doc is working with a training unit for medics out in SLO. I drove down for the weekend and will post the pics as soon as I can. I'll add them here- Anyway, While in SLO I tried my best to get an oral history from my mom's neighbor Bob. Bob was involved in D-day, Normandy with the Timberwolfs...the 104th Infantry Division. He wasn't the first wave to hit the beach, but soon after. He told me many stories. One was of a medic. He said medics then didn't war helmets or guns. He was in a transport truck when the medic was saying how he could hardly wait until this was over in order to get home to his wife and his newborn daughter. As his sentence ended, shrapnel from an explosive lodged through his forehead. His last thought was of his family, but he never made it home.

Bob was born in 1924, a twin, his brother wasn't drafted. He trained for tanks (37 Battalion) but volunteered for infantry because he thougth he'd have a better chance of making it home. I wonder how many D-day era Timberwolfs are left? I can tell you that he did say that he blamed his only child's hearing loss and eventual deafness on himself. I think he meant due to his own health problems after war. He also showed me his feet. I always wondered why his wife was out line dancing at the senior center and he wasn't. He almost lost his feet because they froze and he's had a lifetime of problems with them. Apparently they saved the good boots for the POGs and the infantry had regular shoes with galoshes. They weren't snow proof, slush proof or freeze proof.

Doc showed me his feet too, early on in our relationship. I wonder if the foot of the infantry soldier is the real evidence of the man?
I'm going to sleep and look forward to Doc coming back soon. I think he comes back for a few days then goes back TDY until the middle of March. I am proud that he is training medics for combat, because he is one hellava qualified guy.

Today there was a lot of news about not having enough support for our troops healthcare, mental health care or beds in the hospitals. How is it the silent wars that come home are not more important to society? Why aren't the veterans more important in the news than Anna Nicole Smith's demise or Brittany's shaved head.... Who gives a darn about that. Some of those among us are battling for their lives...