THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS I WROTE THIS BOOK; And I did it using the “strangest method imaginable.” As I wrote the book I would send chapters to Afghanistan to a select unit of warriors, who were my content readers. WHO DOESN’T KNOW I AM A MILITARY GROUPIE?
Jason contacted me saying after reading the chapters submitted, some of the guys wanted to be “in” the book. (Even though one feared it might turn out to be a “chick book” but when he received his copy in Afghanistan he read it in one sitting.) I happily accommodated them by renaming characters by either first names or last names of these guys.
Left to Right Sgt. Tanner’s friends with Unit Flag.
Pvt. 2nd Class Evans
My nephew knew almost a year ahead that he was being deployed and must get his affairs in order. I could not find a single book written on the issues a soldier might face personally in deployment; certainly not in novel form. With encouragement from Special Forces Steve Newman who wrote the Forward, I forged ahead. (And I reciprocated by writing a Forward in his second book; Burnt Yellow and Red.)
This was a poster made when he was on his national book tour and came to Illiniois (Rock Island Arsenal) where we had our “face to face” meeting. He brought his incredible wife Brig with him. She also served in Iraq and gave distinguished service in a time when she was the only female at the outpost where she was stationed on the Syrian Border during her deployment. There were thousands of other woman deployed to the Iraq theatre.
This shirt pictured on the novel cover necessitated me having to have 2 novel covers; one for general use and one for the printed copies sent to troops in Afghanistan (taking precautions). Jason was stationed at what at that time was designated the “most dangerous place in the world”. Taliban used the road (the main thoroughfare between Iraq and Pakistan making it necessary for them to clear the IED’s regularly planted outside their compound during the night. They were close enough that the Taliban and American troops could hurl insults at one another as they passed in their vehicles, and at night would lob rockets inside the perimeters. I didn’t want any pictures of them on the book to get into the wrong hands for fear of the propaganda they might use or retaliation they might try. Jason assured me I was being an overprotective “Auntie” but still I persisted.
What resulted is a book I am so very proud on. Even now, years later when I read it, I am proud. I believe it shows the HEART of military service men and women who must deal with family issues, love and loss, patriotism and going the second mile for civilian’s while serving. It reveals the hidden pain, hope, and definitely humor that gets them through. Leaving things “hanging” in a negative way, knowing you might never return to make things right, is a challenge and emotional threat that hangs over the heads of many deploying troops.
The wars we fight today are different; instead of “Let’s go kick some—– and we’ll come home and tell about it, our soldiers are being deployed with the message; “Many of you in this room will not return, and many will not return the men and women they were. PTSD is a problem that follows and haunts you going forward.
INSERTED INTO THIS BOOK: Native Indian wisdom and practices, truths about families, secrets, childhood betrayals, and the stories of Stellar Men like Sgt. Hammer, and our all American boys to men, like Sgt. Dakota Tripp. The military brotherhood and how some handle “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”. In the book, women veterans and military are shown for the STRONG AND VITAL part they fill 24/7 as an invaluable resource in the war theatre.
Joyce Godwin Grubbs has created an incredible story that weaves through the emotional triangle that military members and their families are faced with in her most recent novel, “Jason’s Love is W.A.R.; Women, Adventure, Romance. Joyce uses her platform as an author to tackle the issues faced by today’s military families. She addresses the emotions created by the stress of everything from, waiting for that day of departure, adjusting to being alone or deployed and then renegotiating expectations upon return. Not to mention the difficulty of reintegrating back into a society that goes about its business as if nothing has ever changed.
Joyce Godwin Grubbs is a champion for our warriors and she makes it possible for every American to understand their role and how they can support these wonderful men and women as they return. This is a wake-up call to a society that is not facing the reality of the war we are fighting and it is a wake-up call so that we do not repeat past mistakes. Our members of the United States Military are extraordinary citizens who all volunteered to defend our great nation, no matter what the sacrifice. They have taken a stance in the name of freedom so that we may all sleep soundly in our beds at night. They are willing to stand a post to protect our great nation. They do it for love of God, and country, of home and family. They understand that to love freely, requires fighting for it. Not all of them will return; they all deserve our utmost respect and admiration for they are defenders of our right to live and love freely.
It has been almost ten years since the events that took place on 9-11 changed the entire world. Since that time, military families have coped with a myriad of incredibly dangerous deployments where the level of violence goes unmatched in recent history. Only those who have gone through it themselves are likely to understand what it takes these days to succeed and survive as a warrior, or as a family member in todays military. And the reality is that this country will likely be at war for a long time; not all of our warriors will return.
Since 9-11 the operational tempo for today’s warriors has increased tenfold and rarely do they have the opportunity to reconcile who ‘they were’ with the person they have become before the next deployment kicks in. Combat, changes a person, often it changes a person for the better, still reintegrating back into normal, everyday life can be difficult if not impossible for some. Godwin-Grubbs’ exploration of the issues faced by military families through the characters is a gift from her to all of us. She enables us all to understand and discuss the emotional stages that both military members and their families go through when faced with any deployment. It doesn’t matter if it is a deployment for training or a real world deployment into harm’s way.
God bless our troops and our great nation,
S.B. Newman, Author “The Night Eagles Soared.”
GI Film Festival
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Thank you to all the military men and women who make it possible for me to sit here and freely write anything I choose. Thank you for your sacrifice. Sgt. Tanner’s “modeling for the xray” which he received after injuries during his service in Afghanistan.
And of course there is always a mystery surrounding anything I write; and this is a true one concerning my nephew Jason and my granddaughter Erica.
My nephew Jason is all about the Army, service, and flags. I am so proud of him and thus wrote the book to “help his morale” for pre-deployment. I am so thankful for that bond that exists between us. His mother has passed, but I am certain, whatever her “vantage point” at this time, she is very proud of him. Retiring for him was a very difficult decision after all his years of service and his battle to return to service after a back injury requiring surgery and rehab had put him out. He worked tirelessly to rehab and when it came time to call up his reserve status, he was prepared to return to duty.
I believe the poem which he wrote, and I included in his book, might explain it. It is credited in this copy to his “alter-ego” Sgt. Hammer (his book character)
My First Kill
It was under the black carpet with the white spots and bright lights that I learned I was wrong about myself and my life.
I once was a child full of compassion and love, pure as the dew and sweet as a dove.
As I grew in this world I saw troubling times, yet never forgot to believe in myself: My destiny and fate were mine.
I joined the service to learn to be a man; causing that same innocent boy to lose himself with a simple pen stroke, from his own hand.
That boy learned to forget and hide all the pain within, as he built a wall with a sign; “no one may come in.”
It was the only way it could be if I wanted to survive: to hide the emotions within as I watched my feelings die.
So now I had my first kill, but the next one came fast: you have to kill all your emotions or you just wouldn’t last.
Now with emotions ‘out’ you feel lost in the crowd, for without feeling and emotions it is hard to be proud.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to have served my country, but not of what I became: that’s why they say your first kill is the hardest.
Without your feelings the world has won, so now you spend your time trying to resurrect the dead.
A battle rages for your heart and there is ongoing torture in your head.
It is not easy to bring back all that you have lost…but you will: for there is one thing even more difficult than accepting that first kill.
Accepting the feelings you have left in your life that make you a man, free to show those feelings to your daughter or son, and live out your life.
Sgt. Jason Hammer June 21 1999
May his retirement years yield as much fruit of greatness as his military did.
God bless you Jason, and may God continue to bless this United States of America.