- Jeffrey Denning
- I'm the author of four books: Warrior SOS, The Work of Death, Together Forever, and Leaders Wanted. I'm in the doc film Please Remove Your Shoes. I've blogged for The Washington Times, and I write for Guns.com. I've worked for the high-profile U.S.-led Roadmap to Mideast Peace in Israel and Palestine. I've also worked as a SWAT team leader, a Federal Air Marshal and a sole-source training instructor on a classified contract with a U.S. government customer. My master's degree is in Military Studies and terrorism. I'm a former noncommissioned and commissioned Army officer, with service in Iraq. I've been Scuba diving and skydiving; I have trained with members of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, and I'm an FBI-trained crisis negotiator. My interests lie in helping others and in strengthening America through inspiring moral courage, government fiscal responsibility and accountability, and maintaining principles that have made--and will continue to make--the United States of America a blessed and prosperous country. I'm a father of six, a husband, and a police officer. I reside in Utah, and I'm a Mormon. See also https://jeffreydenning.wordpress.com.
September 1, 2011
Mother of Military Veterans (OIF & OEF) Gives Advice, Speaks of Faith and PTSD
Terri Reid lives in the same area of the United States as her Mary O’Reilly character, Northwest Illinois. She lives on five acres of rolling land in a 100 year-old farmhouse, with her husband, children, dogs, cats and several dozen chickens (well, they live in the barn.) She has seven children and eleven grandchildren, and LOVES her big family.
Her background is in marketing and public relations, but she has always enjoyed telling stories. For a while, she worked as a freelance journalist for the local paper and wrote the Halloween feature for many years, collecting as many local ghost stories as she could. She gave her collection of local ghost stories to the local historical society to use as a fundraiser, they are now in their third printing.
She loves to hear from her readers. She can be reached at email@example.com
SOS: Can you tell us just a little about your recent writing successes?
At the beginning of 2010, I was successfully employed as a marketing consultant. I had a small business of my own and I had several customers who had small businesses. During that time I was taking a good look at my life – what where my goals? Was I happy with what I was doing? Did what I was doing really “work” with my personal goals. One of my clients (actually my biggest client) was a website developer who developed sites for two very different sectors of business. I was an independent contractor for them and I did all of their small business sales, the owner handled all of the corporate sales. This meant that I was flying out to a number of conventions all across the United States and selling their services. This also meant that I was traveling at least once a month and generally over the week-end. I remember one convention in particular that started my new thought process. We had to arrive on Sunday – which meant flying early in the morning out of O’Hare and getting to Las Vegas midday. We set up the booth and got everything we needed done for the next day. Then, the owner informed me that we would be hosting one of her current corporate clients at a comedy show that evening. I told her that I wasn’t comfortable with going to a Las Vegas comedy show because I knew the person we were to see was very crude and I didn’t think it was a great Sunday activity. (Okay, that was an understatement! J ) But she told me I didn’t have a choice, as she already purchased my ticket and told the client I would be there. Looking back, I should have still insisted that I didn’t want to go. But, I felt pressure and I didn’t want to disappoint my client. So I went. The show was as I expected – truly awful – but even worse, I felt that I had betrayed my values and my Heavenly Father.
That night, I lay in my hotel room contemplating the choices (and compromises) I had been making in order to please this client. I realized I wasn’t being true to myself or my faith. So, I made the decision that as soon as I was able, I would leave this job. I prayed about and felt such a wonderful sense of relief – I knew I had made the right decision.
When I got back to town, I started speaking with my other clients (local clients) about the possibility of doing some more work for them. One of my clients was really excited and had a laundry list of things he wanted to pursue. We talked about a marketing plan and a budget, it would more than cover the out of town client – and I was thrilled. So, I gave the website client a month’s notice and fulfilled all the responsibilities I had for them. A month later, when I was to meet with the local client, I received a call from him. This was the time when the economy was making drastic changes and several large brokerage houses lost everything. Well, a great deal of his business’ money had been invested in one of those brokerage houses and he was going to have to make drastic cuts. Not only would he not be able to fulfill the terms of our agreement, the other work that I had been doing for him for years was going to have to be severely cut back. I couldn’t believe it – my safety net was gone. My income was gone! What was I supposed to do next?
So, I started applying for jobs – but in this economy, nothing was available. And, as a self-employed consultant, I didn’t have the benefit of unemployment. I started looking for freelance writing jobs and took a couple of those on. And, I decided to finish up the novel I had been working on. During that time, a friend sent me a Wall Street Journal article about a woman who published her books through Amazon’s e-books. She had tried to sell her books through traditional publishers and had been turned down, so she decided to sell them on her own. It sounded like a great plan and the payment schedule was so much faster than traditional publishing (you get paid after 60 days) and I needed to generate income quickly, so I decided I would e-publish.
My first book, Loose Ends – A Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery, came out in August, 2010. Now, a year later, I have five novels for sale and have sold over 60,000 copies. I have made more income from my writing than I ever made with any of my consulting and I am able to write full time and meet the needs of my family.
I would have never been “forced” down this path of success if all of those doors I had counted on hadn’t closed. There were times when I was so frightened, there were months that were VERY lean...but, I remember praying about my decision and knowing that I received assurance from Heavenly Father that what I was doing was right. So, I knew, sooner or later, He would bless me. And He did.
SOS: That all must feel very personally and professionally rewarding for you. Changing topics a little, with seven children, you have a very large family. How do you keep it all together? What's your secret, especially when difficulty and hard times, heartache and heartbreak comes?
I have faith in my Heavenly Father. I know that He loves me and He loves my family. I understand that He has a better perspective on my life than I do. And I know that He won’t make me deal with anything more than I can handle. When my son, David, was in Afghanistan in the Army there were scary times. I remember on Mother’s Day the whole family was here at the house and I had arranged to call David through Skype, so the whole family could speak with him. When I called, there was a recording that said all the lines were down. I knew they did that when there was a casualty in the unit. I kept trying to call him throughout the day, but continued to get the same message. My heart dropped, I expected a strange vehicle to drive up to the house and two uniformed men to step out. I was pretty much beside myself in worry. There was nothing I could do. No one I could call. Then, I realized, there is always someone I can call. I slid to my knees and poured out my heart to Heavenly Father. I told Him about my worries and concerns. And then, I did the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done. I handed my worries over to Him. I had Faith in Him. I told Him that I knew He loved David and He was watching over David, and I would have Faith that everything would turn out the way Heavenly Father wanted it to be.
David called the next day. Unfortunately, a young man in their unit committed suicide that day and the phone were turned off until his family could be contacted. I felt so much sorrow for that poor young man who didn’t understand that there was always someone who loved him and would listen to him.
I don’t know what I would do without the knowledge that my Heavenly Father is always there for me. And even when I’m not as attentive as I should be to Him, He’s always there for me when I need Him.
SOS: Faith in God has helped a lot of people and so many military warriors included. Did you grow up in a military family?
My father was in the Marines. He was a Korean War vet. Unfortunately, my father was an alcoholic and ended up leaving my family when I was in fourth grade. There were eight of us and I was the fifth child. My mother remarried a year after and was married to a wonderful man who is also a World War II veteran. He actually was on Omaha Beach on D-Day. So, I actually never had the opportunity to “live” with my stepfather, but I love to hear the stories he is willing to share with us.
SOS: I can't imagine what those heroes went through. I truly cannot fathom it. Wars are different today, but each warrior has his/her own personal battles -- some of them real events and some of them on going emotional struggles. What would you recommend as a mother of military veterans -- even with one in Iraq at this very moment?
My son, Nathan, is in Iraq – in the Air Force. And having him on a base (and not out on patrols sitting behind a gun) eases my mind. But, there is always danger when they are in a war zone, so I am never complacent about the degree of risk and sacrifice he is making for our country. However, now that I have one son who returned from Afghanistan and experienced the horrors of war, I understand more fully the great sacrifice these soldiers give to their country. Young people have always thought there were immortal, that’s what gives them their sense of adventure, their willingness to risk and have fun. When they go to war and they see their friends die in front of them, that wonderful sense of immortality is stolen from them. Not only do they realize they can die, they also often feel guilty for not dying when their comrades have paid the ultimate price. They have nightmares of being back in the war zone. They wake up in the middle of the night, shaken because they think they have to go on patrol again. The room gets too hot, a car backfires outside, the road gets too bumpy and they are back in Afghanistan trying to stay alive.
What can we do – those who love these soldiers? We need to listen. We need to never judge. We need to be there, day or night. We need to understand what they are saying, and not impose our thoughts on them. We need to realize that we will NEVER understand what they went through or what they saw, and the best thing we can do is love them, unconditionally. But, we also need to encourage them to seek help. PTSD is not something to be ashamed of. It’s like being ashamed of having a cold, that would be ridiculous, right? PTSD is the bodies way of dealing with the emotional and physical trauma experienced overseas. Just like we need chicken soup, Vitamin C and cough medicine for a cold. We need counseling and direction to deal with PTSD.
I have been blessed with a son who communicates with me. There were many nights when we would sit together and he would tell me about his experiences. Things he never told me while he was there because he didn’t want to worry me. So, I would listen, mostly, and never shy away from the bad parts because if he was able to deal with it in person, I certainly could listen to it and sympathize with him.
I also learned a wonderful lesson from my son. David was in a convoy patrolling in Afghanistan. He was a gunner – so he sat on top of the Humvee. Because of his sharp eyesight, David was generally in the first vehicle. During one patrol, they partnered with another unit, so David was third vehicle. As they drove next to a nearby village, the first vehicle hit an IED and exploded. David watched four friends and brothers die in front of him. While he was there, he told me he wasn’t on that patrol. He had been back at the base. (Once again, he was protecting me so I wouldn’t worry.) When he got home he shared the real story with me. In my ignorance, I said, “Well, David, all of those prayers we were saying for you must have worked.” David turned to me and said, “Mom, I don’t think Heavenly Father let others guys die so I could live.”
Wow! He was absolutely right. And I told him so, immediately. Those young men who died all had families praying they would come home safely. I don’t think Heavenly Father hears the prayers of one mother and not the other. Heavenly Father had nothing to do with that IED or the evil men who buried it there. But we also have to remember that this life is just a test. The real reward is when we return to our Heavenly Father with our jobs well done. I’m sure those young men were welcomed home with love and compassion – greater love hath no man than he gives his life for another.
The only advice I can think of offering is this – get to know your Heavenly Father. He is the one who knows you and loves you no matter what. And realize that you are his child. You are a child of God. You have infinite worth. He has a plan for you. He sees the bigger picture. If you are still haunted by your time overseas, don’t let the enemy win. Don’t let them claim another casualty. You are stronger than that! Get the help you need to set you back on the path you need to be on!
SOS: I'm inspired by your words, advice and encouragement. Surely all others who read this, with a hope and even a small - if not large - belief in God, will feel of your tender heart and love for them. Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts, your time and your inspirational words. I hope you continue to be blessed with your profession, and especially, I hope and pray your family and posterity will be safe and blessed now and forever. As a mother of military veterans, you have sacrificed much. Thank you. Thank you so very much.
To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK