"Susan Nelson had the unique ability to take my heart, fill it with love and pride then wring out tears of frustration, sadness and empathy for the families of our fighting men and women. She will show you that families of deployed soldiers are heroes in their own right. Kudos, Susan. What a lovely tribute to our military families."
Susan Oliver Nelson’s book “Trips of Daisy” details the thousand days her husband was deployed to Iraq. Two deployments lasting 2 ½ years within four years...how does one keep a marriage and family together? Is this even a family?
In a blunt and open fashion, Nelson describes her efforts to be upbeat for her five children even as the war news worsened. With her husband deploying to Iraq in mid-2004, Nelson is watching the news reporting as the American body count tripling in twelve months while the CIA reports that Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction. “Trips of Daisy” chronicle her thoughts and feeling during the holiday season as she plays Santa-mom-dad to her children, missed birthdays, or dresses them for Halloween. Watching the news is a mixed blessing; it keeps her involved in what is happening in Iraq, but also alerts her to the rising casualty counts, the horrific injuries caused by I.E.D’s, along with America’s shifting sentiments about the value of the war.
Fortunately, communication from Iraq were improved by mid-2004, so there was reliable email and telephone, however lack of a call after the news reported a bombing or IED strike only served to increase Nelson’s stress levels. She also recounts the change in their relationship when he returns during the two-week R&R the Army implemented in an attempt to relieve the stresses of the too-long deployments. Yes, he’s lying beside her, but he’s no longer her best friend and lover; he’s her soldier. And then there’s her reaction to the Army extending his second tour, and her anger when few in the Army would even admit the unit was being extended.
A writer by profession, Nelson clearly has chosen her words with care. Expressing the unexpressable; the fear of losing her spouse in combat, to PTSD, suicide, or divorce, she bears her soul in “Trips of Daisy”, in hopes that other wives, in reading about her struggles, will understand they are not alone. Highly Recommended!
FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Fort Belvoir author Susan Oliver Nelson tells the story of her military family’s journey of strength, sacrifice, and enduring love for one another during the 1,000 days of their soldier’s Iraqi deployment in her newly published book, “Trips of Daisy.”
Published by PublishAmerica earlier this year, the 126-page work reads like an emotionally-charged letter and is based on journals kept by both Nelson and her ArmyMichael, during his deployments to Iraq in 2004 and 2006. “Trips of a Daisy” mixes headlines from the Iraqi war with the couple’s recollections of what was going on at both home and downrange in Iraq. medic husband,
Keeping a journal came naturally to Susan, a reporter, but not quite so easily to her husband. He didn’t “get into it” as much as she’d hoped, she said, but he did share some of what he experienced while deployed via email and precious phone calls made while he was downrange.
“I think it did help him,” she said.
The couple wed in 1995, and have been together since 1993. Michael was 33 when he enlisted in the Army. By that time, the Nelsons had already been married eight years and had five children.
“The 1,000 days of deployment, that’s a quarter of our marriage,” Nelson said with a disbelieving shake of her head.
In the introduction to her book, Susan writes that the story “is a reminder of the sacrifices these families make that all Americans may enjoy freedom and peace at home.”
“It describes the emotion of soldier, spouse and country individually,” Michael said.
Michael was only home eight or nine months before his second deployment. In the book, he describes life on the frontlines, improvised explosive devices going off with deadly results, and missing his family back home.
“I have come to realize how far removed solider is from civilian,” he wrote. “There is certain simplicity about being deployed. As a soldier the mission is staying alive; watching the other guys’ backs and to make sure we all make it back alive. But once home, what do we do?”
And that is the other topic the book addresses, how military families resume their lives together when their solider comes home.
“I don’t know how we do it either,” Susan acknowledges. “But we do.”
The book also candidly discusses how the family continues to deal with Michael’s post traumatic stress disorder.The book is available at publishamerica.com; on amazon.com; and at Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble.