Topic: Military Families

Cheyenne Smith and her dad at the Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy of the author.

You Cannot Go Back, and It Never Really Gets Better. Sometimes the Truth Is Cruel.

The “better” you’re searching for is the way you once were before you wound up bloody on the floor. That’s gone now.

I Can’t Afford the Grace of Failure. I’m a Survivor.

The point is to push your boundaries not within the limits of survival but until turbulent failure. This strange new concept sends me on a spiral.
Chez Chesak’s first child was born just as he headed to war. He met her five months later at the Boise, Idaho, airport, while home on leave. Photo courtesy of the author.

I Heard My Daughter’s First Cry From 7,000 Miles Away. Hours Later, I Was in a War Zone.

Still in desert camouflage, I picked her up carefully, gave her a gentle hug and a kiss—my first kiss to my first child.
Dominique Hunter, the Military Breastfeeding Network active- duty director, explains doula and breastfeeding options to new moms at a Womack Army Medical Center maternity fair at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, in 2018. Photo by Twana Atkinson, courtesy of the U.S. Army.

Expectant Service Members Lack Support. Doulas Could Help, Advocates Say.

Members of the military who are pregnant lack options when it comes to giving birth. That might be changing, but challenges persist.
A Soldier from Company C, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, pulls security in a town near Kirkuk, Iraq, as a Kiowa Warrior helicopter from 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, patrols the area surrounding the village in 2006. Photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Matson, courtesy of the U.S. Army.

I Watched His Blood Wash Out of the OH-58D. It Was a Hell of a Way to Grow Up.

War brings about all sorts of emotions. The darkest ones get never-ending attention. Yet this was the happiest day of my life.
Baby makes three. Amanda Huffman, her husband, and their son. Photo courtesy of the author.

A Life of Service Doesn’t End When You Take Off the Uniform. Now I Forge My Own Path.

The military changed me in ways I didn’t fully appreciate. Now it was over and I was a mom and a military spouse but no longer a service member.

Their Lives Would Never Be the Same. In Some Ways, Neither Would Mine.

What about all the lives lost? What about the ones we didn’t know but whose deaths we learned about on screens and in telephone calls?
Lance Minor as a young Marine. “Resiliency is more than pushing on when you’re tired,” he writes. “It’s understanding what you’ve learned—and growing stronger from it.”

This Is the Crucible That Forged Me, But I Am No Piece of Steel. None of Us Are.

The living form a gauntlet listening to Taps and the jarring report of the 21-gun salute. The wind kicks up moon dust, and you can smell the heat.
Maria Rossi writes about losing her father at the Lucky Spur Ranch in Justin, Texas, during the 2023 Writing Seminar for Gold Star Children and Siblings. Photo by Babee Garcia.

The Cadence of the 21 Gunshots Pierced My Ears. I Braced Myself for Each One.

My dad and I had an ideal father-daughter relationship. He was my hero, and I was Daddy’s little girl. I didn’t fear him, but I feared disappointing him.