This country has been at war for more than a decade and a half. When you write it out, it kind of blows your mind doesn’t it? For more than 15 years, military families have endured multiple deployments, unspeakable loss and the hardships of a decade plus of ups and downs. How do families survive that? Kristine Schellhass tackles that exact question in her memoir, 15 Years of War.
I have the privilege of meeting Kristine at the 2017 Military Influencer Conference and immensely enjoyed hearing her presentation on self-publishing. After hearing all that she went through to get her book out there, I knew I needed to read it myself. Luckily, Santa brought it my way for Christmas after seeing it on my military spouse-created gift guide.
Summary: Less than 1% of our nation will ever serve in our armed forces, leaving many to wonder what life is really like for military families.
He answers the call of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Pacific; she keeps the home fires burning. Worlds apart, and in the face of indescribable grief, their relationship is pushed to the limits.
15 Years of War: How the Longest War in U.S. History Affected a Military Family in Love, Loss, and the Cost Of Service provides a unique he said/she said perspective on coping with war in modern-day America. It reveals a true account of how a dedicated Marine and his equally committed spouse faced unfathomable challenges and achieved triumph, from the days just before 9/11 through 15 years of training workups, deployments, and other separations.
This story of faith, love, and resilience offers insight into how a decade and a half of war has redefined what it means to be a military family.
My thoughts: Sometimes you are lucky enough to find a book that just gets you. This is one of those books for me.
I can relate to Kristine’s story so much that it might as well be my own. Oh wait, large chunks of it really could be! She perfectly captures what it’s like to a military spouse in the middle of a never-ending cycle of deployments and TDYs all while trying to keep any shred of normalcy going on at home. It’s heart-wrenchingly difficult and the only thing that keeps you going are the wonderful times in between. She does a wonderful job of sharing both the highs and lows of military life.
I love that the book told the story from both her and her husband’s perspectives. As hard as life can be for military spouses, it’s important for us to remember that our spouses aren’t exactly on vacation. My husband, like many service members, doesn’t really like talking about what happens during a deployment (or even during a normal day at work) so reading her husband’s perspective was eye-opening for me. I imagine this will be the case for most readers, whether you’re a civilian or a military spouse.
If I had to pick just one word to describe this book it would be real. Kristine doesn’t sugarcoat anything and really lets the reader into the darkest corners of her life and marriage. I appreciate that as both a reader and a fellow military spouse. She gives the world a realistic glimpse of what military families have been through over the past 15+ years and that’s so important.
No matter what your affiliation is to the military, you will find the story captivating and powerful. Without hesitation, I recommend adding this book to your reading list!