From the first day of writing, my deepest wish was that The Honor Was Mine would speak right across the military-civilian divide. Last week, at Malaprop's, Asheville's premier independent bookstore, I got to see first-hand the responses on both sides of that sometimes-vast divide.
A veteran waiting to get his book signed thanked me for writing it with tears in his eyes.
A civilian friend sent me this note: This book opened my eyes and my heart to the courage and struggles of the millions of soldiers, veterans and military families who are sometimes invisible in our midst.
Another veteran gazed silently, but his eyes told me everything - he was engaged, present, nodding his head in appreciation of the discussion that was taking place.
A couple of friends who were sixties-era hippie anti-war demonstrators told me the book changed their perception of the military.
A veteran who's reading it now tells me he feels like he's back on the base - in a good way. He laughs at the familiar slang and well-remembers some of the tight-clipped atmosphere of military life. And it helps him remember his buddies, fallen in combat.
A civilian reader wrote a powerful response: If enough of us read it, The Honor Was Mine can help us stop the shocking suicides of thousands of active and retired service members each year arising from the lingering pain of these experiences.
I'm so grateful to each and every reader (and listener). I do hope the book changes hearts. I'd like to hear if it changed yours . . .
I'd like to share some of the early response to The Honor Was Mine - out just a few days now, the reactions from early readers have been heartwarming:
"Your sensitivity and description of your interactions with the soldiers is so vivid, so visual, and all the nuances that you picked up in their body language and in their words is very touching and heart-rending."
"Have just finished reading your book. WOW! Such amazing writing and incredible insight into soldiers and their families. Also into the incredible job expectations you experienced. I hope you are very proud of this work, as you should be."
"What an insightful and delicately written book. The honor may have been hers, but the gratitude is ours."
I hope you'll read it and let me know what you thought, felt and learning in hearing the stories the combat veterans, spouses and loved ones had to share!
Elizabeth Heaney - Author
Clinical Psychologist, teacher, private counselor. She speaks and writes about her work with service members.