Mom, Soldier’s Wife, Writer
By Dahlia Rose
This is a little of my story and why I write military romance. Before the contracts and the book releases, I was a mom with a nine-to-five job and in my evenings I wrote. My short stories were read by the 113th HHB in Camp Caldwell. This is a group of great guys who, through my husband, I have the pleasure of knowing and two of which are godfathers to my son. These guys taught me how to break down a service weapon and also let me sit behind a .50 Caliber gun and look through a sniper scope. They didn’t let me fire either one… Drat! I’ve crawled in and out of Humvees and trucks so big that I first had to be lifted in.
They taught me call signs or the military alphabet as I like to call it. I’ve fiddled with radios and watched training at Fort Bragg. (A hard job, right? How do I stand it? LOL.) I’ve seen the military through the eyes of many a solider and what it means to them. It’s not just a job but a brotherhood that looks out for one another and will always have each other’s back, even when retired. And I’ve met the men and the women who love them.
There is something special in military romance because we military wives have to learn early how to hold the home together while our men are gone. We have to be each other’s support especially when the worst happens and a loved one is lost. It takes a special kind of woman to sign on for that kind of duty. I was blessed to be among them.
In 2004, after seeing coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a few friends and I joined the Adopt-A-Hero program and, in doing so, changed the course of my life. At that time, I was a single mom (and quite badass at it, if I do say so myself), managing to take care of the kids, working in New York City and holding it all down by myself. I received an e-mail on June 26th of that year from a soldier who was lonely and looking to just talk to someone. I instantly felt connected and wanted to do all that I could so I sent socks, personal toiletries, and candy (he had a sweet tooth). I then received pictures of this soldier handing out some of the candy to the kids who were living in the middle of the war.
By October, I was calling that soldier mine and he was calling me his baby girl. That soldier became my husband in 2009 after the birth of our son. Seven years later, those blue eyes still capture my heart. I can look into his eyes and see the man who called me every night for eighteen months from his FOB(Forward Operation Base). I see the man who waited nervously in front of a restaurant to meet me on his two weeks’ leave clutching a bunch of flowers. I see the man who was leaving to go back to Iraq and kissed the hell out of me in front of his friends at Penn Station. Writing military romance wasn’t something that I just fell into. It’s the life I lived every day for almost nine years.
I leave a piece of myself in each story. I can relate if my heroine is a single mom. I can relate to the worry and anguish when a wife is waiting for word when the one she loves is out on convoy. I can relate to the terror she feels when she finds out her man has been hurt. In my case, my husband’s Humvee flipped when he drove over an IED. He lost a friend that day and he had no other choice but to drive for three days covered in blood until he got back to his FOB. I also know the pure joy when these brave men and women finally come home for good. They are a little battered, a lot bruised, very tired, but happy to be home.
As wives, mothers and family, we cheer them on during deployment, and then when they come home we walk through the complications of war together. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries are two things I came to recognize very well. So, essentially, even though they are home, we still have miles to walk before we can find some kind of normalcy. While a romance is sweet, loving and filled with passion, in my books I also try to highlight the uphill battle a soldier fights every day. In my books, sometimes there are tears, but if you love someone you stick by them through thick and thin. Unfortunately, in the real world that’s not always the case. When I volunteered at the VA hospital in my area the stories I heard would bring you to your knees.
Men and women expect to come home to a family who love and care for them but many times find separation and ultimately divorce instead. With each of these horrifying stories I hear, I firm myself to give them a happy ending in my books. In my series, My Daddy is a Hero, I like to give a shout out to single military dads. I know a few of these brave men who’ve left their kids with grandparents or close friends to go fight bravely overseas. In my books, I’ve cover them all: Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy and National Guard, but the ending is always the same. Love conquers every adversity regardless of whether it’s home grown or deployment. My holiday military books are my favorite to write because too many of our soldiers miss holidays with their families and holidays are always the hardest on both ends.
So that’s a little bit about me and my world. I’m a mom, a soldier’s wife and a writer. I volunteer and pack boxes for the troops in my spare time. I can fit my daughter’s dance classes, tutoring and VA appointments into one day and balance a checkbook like a pro. I can file forms for my husband and list every PTSD medication he’s ever been on. I can sit through stories he and his friend tell and laugh with them about the good times they had together while on active duty and mourn with them for the ones they lost. Even when a soldier retires, they will always be a soldier. They would pick up arms and walk right back into the fray if called upon. And if that day comes, I’ll still be here giving a voice to those who deserve our respect, from veterans to the young men and women who sign up every day.