Where Is the Instruction Book for Military Life?

Celebration time! Terri Barnes’ Spouse Calls: Messages from a Military Life hit the shelves this week. Why am I celebrating each new military spouse book?

When Holly Scherer and I tried to get our first book published, one publisher said to us, “There is already a book out there for military spouses — we can’t see supporting another one.”

That was like saying, “There is already one parenting book, there is already one dieting book; there is already one cookbook … no need for another.”

As if one book could cover everything we need to know about military life! Ha!

We couldn’t possibly cover everything you need to know for your military life in one book. No author could.

There are entire books written by military spouses on topics like moving or dealing with deployments or strengthening military marriages.

Other books are memoirs that have us nodding our heads and saying, “Me too…I went through the exact same feelings.” Nice to know we aren’t alone.

Terri’s new book is a collection of her Spouse Calls columns from Stars & Stripes, a column I’ve read for years for the insights and information, often thinking she is peeking into my own living room.

I’m happy to be able to say there is now a long list of books specifically written for military spouses and other books specifically for military children or parents of service members.

We hope at some point many of these books will be in all service exchanges, like the books of the First Lady of the Marine Corps Recommended Reading List. Those books are now available in Marine Corps exchanges and online at MilitaryFamilyBooks.com.

As longtime military spouses, we think this is important for three reasons:

3 Reasons Why Books About Military Life are Important:

1. Brand new spouses looking for HELP.  A spouse new to the military might not learn early on about helpful programs like the Military Life 101 workshops and networks like SpouseBuzz.

But every new spouse walks into a military exchange. Isn’t that the perfect place for them to find helpful resources like books written to help them navigate this new life? To my mind, stocking those books is more important than $300 designer handbags.

2. Put some money into our community. Amazon is convenient place to look for books on military spouse hood, sure, but they do not send monies back into our military communities.

Your purchases at the exchange DO. A percentage of all exchange sales go into important Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs. This isn’t small change.

I don’t have the most recent figures but the ones below give you an idea of how huge the financial impact is to our military communities. Many MWR programs wouldn’t exist or would be very limited without these funds.

In FY 2011, $42.7 million went to these programs from the Navy exchange, $47.5 million from Marine Corps exchange. In the past ten years, AAFES has contributed more than $2.4 billion to quality of life programs such as youth services, child development centers, armed forces recreation centers, aquatic centers, golf courses, and more.

Shop your exchange for savings AND help push money back into our military community, especially at a time when we face such major military budget cuts.

3. The real experts are living the life right now. We need books written by military spouses specifically for military spouses and children.

Yes, we can learn from civilian experts and in depth research on many aspects of life. But we also need to hear from other military spouses who say, “This is what I was able to do; this is what worked for us.” Knowing that they have walked your walk helps.

Our children need to see books about children like themselves, dealing with military moves, dealing with deployments, dealing with moms or dads returning from deployments changed.


So, yes, I celebrate each new book from a military spouse. And I’ll celebrate even more when we see these books in military exchanges.

Kathie Hightower is a longtime military spouse. With her cohort Holly Scherer she’s presented Follow Your Dreams While You Follow the Military™ workshops for military spouses worldwide. Coauthor of Military Spouse Journey: Discover the Possibilities and Live Your Dreams, and 1001 Things to Love About Military Life, along with many columns and articles. Find more about Military Spouse Journey on Facebook here.

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