Terri Barnes is living the typical, atypical military family life: After growing up in an Air Force family, she had no plan to marry back into the military, “but when I met my husband that was all over,” Barnes said. “Now, I love my life. What was I thinking, that I didn’t want this life? It is harder for me to put myself out of military life.”
After establishing a career in journalism, Barnes took the detour common to military spouses: Barnes worked part-time while her children were small. When the youngest entered school Barnes put out feelers among her contacts and sought to write a regular column for military spouses.
“Stars & Stripes wasn’t interested but they saw my writing samples and they offered me a Q&A column. It moved forward and evolved from there. I write a little bit of everything about military life,” Barnes said. “My military life has made Spouse Calls what it is.”
Barnes writes for and about military spouses, from the youngest new dependent to those who have made a career out of it. She tells the stories of everyday life, both hers and those of her readers.
“I’m not sure there is a typical, military experience. There’s not just one message of military life,” Barnes said. “Like civilian life, there are many components to it. We deal with everything everyone else does, but within a military context there are a lot of small pieces that go into making that life, and every story is different.”
Barnes has pulled together years’ worth of stories and interviews for a new book, “Spouse Calls: Messages from a military life.” Her goal is to reach more than just the military spouses who so often read her column. She wants to connect with civilians, as well.
“We’re not all that different. It’s more than deployments, homecomings, PTSD and tombstones at Arlington,” Barnes said. “The journey of our daily living takes place between those milestones.”
With “Spouse Calls” already on the rack, Barnes is working on a second book, an as yet untitled compilation of stories by approximately 40 writers who are all military family members.
“They’ll write about the joys and challenges of this life and how they handled them, the way we would talk about these things over dinner or a cup of coffee with a friend,” Barnes said.
With both books, Barnes hopes to reach an American public weary of war, to explain, “when this war is over military life is not over. Sacrifices are not over just because the war is over. It is important for dialogue, for the civilian population to know we don’t turn off a switch when we don’t need the military anymore. Military service members are still available to serve at a moment’s notice,” Barnes said. “It’s gonna happen again. There will be a need for a military as long is the world is the way it is. It is important to explain ourselves, why we’re here and who we are and why we are that way.”
Like life, Barnes’ book was written “about each day as it came. In some ways, it’s a journal about my life and about military life. But at some point I realized there is a narrative of military life during the heat of both of these wars that we’ve just lived through--a little piece of history. Maybe not vital history, bu the history of these wars. In World War II, almost everyone had someone fighting. We were in it together. Now, the military is just such a small segment of society. It is important these stories get told. A lot of our lives are noteworthy, without being newsworthy.”
“Spouse Calls: Messages from a military life,” was published March 1, 2014 by Elva Resa Publishing. For information, visit www.elvaresa.com.