The paper birth date for Her War, Her Voice is September 9th, 2009.
This is when we went live. When we decided to create a name that suited us and gave us a voice regarding this military life.
The story behind HWHV, however, is much more than a birth date. Much more than a website. It was idea of finding another woman who would validate my story. And I hers.
“What do you want the logo to look like?” I asked Chris Piper, back in in 2009.
“I see a willow tree. With a yellow ribbon. Because the willow blows and moves in the wind, yet stays rooted in what it is,” she said.
I sat down, inspired, and began to draw. Which I had never known myself to do—feel free enough to draw something from my head. Without expectation. Without fear.
I gave the tree the shape of a woman. What I imagined my shape to be. Standing with stubborn desires to just be.
It was when I knew Her War, Her Voice would be different. And that Chris P. and I had begun to build something amazing. Just in those few words.
In 2008, my novel, The Day After He Left for Iraq was getting ready to be released. I had written my truth in those pages. With all I had, I poured my story into the computer and the bound pages of my first book. When I was writing it, it was cathartic and helpful. But as the publication date neared, I became terrified. What if people told me I was crazy? What if people told me I was a horrible wife? Mother? Army wife? What if I really were the only person in this lifestyle who was feeling the huge range of emotions during a deployment and reintegration?
I was living in Clarksville, TN, and I had watched a woman in my kids’ gymnastics classes for about a year. I can stalk with the best of them, and in all actuality, I am a fierce wallflower. I rarely engage in small talk, and you will not find me at the heart of a military wife social. I had heard her talking for a while. She mentioned a 3rd deployment. Being the FRG leader. And seemed to really have it all together.
Why couldn’t I be like her? Why was I struggling so much? Why was she in the middle of the floor, seemingly thriving, while I was in the corner terrified?
I did what any normal person would do in this circumstance, I walked up to her, parting the throng of women around her, never introducing myself or giving her warning. With a look of what had to be pure focus and/or rage on my face, and with the first words I had ever said to her, I asked: “Do you ever just get really angry?”
The women around me gasped. In my need to be heard or understood, I had done what I usually do. I made crickets.
But this woman was different. She didn’t miss a beat. She didn’t find me weird. She didn’t push me away or try to deck me. Instead, she answered with words that changed my life: “All the time.”
A few days later, she was at my house. We sat in my driveway and watched our kids play while she cried. I cried. We laughed. We sat in silence and just breathed. For the first time, someone else shared my story and told me I wasn’t crazy.
That woman was Christina Piper. From there, we created a website and began to blog about our stories and all this military life can bring. We talked the hard. We talked the joy. And through it all, we never lost sight of each other.
That is the heart of HWHV. It is no longer about just me and Chris. It is no longer just about my team. It is about women coming together. Relationships. Stories. Triumphs. And holding the weight, together.
HWHV was born the day someone was willing to give me, “Me, too.” And HWHV will continue to thrive and will always be here. To listen. To validate. And to support.
Welcome to HWHV. We have been waiting for you.