As Veterans Day is upon us, I wanted to profile author Terri Barnes, whom I had met soon after moving to Summerville. She is married to an Air Force veteran and wrote the “Spouse Calls” column for Stars and Stripes, the only daily newspaper for military members and families serving around the world. Her book, “Spouse Calls: Messages from a Military Life” is a “best of” collection from that column.

Mary Regan

Mary E. Regan

She was also the editor and a contributor to “Stories Around the Table: Laughter, Wisdom and Strength in Military Life.” Terri is the senior editor for Elva Resa Publishing, an independent publisher specializing in books for and about the military community: http://elvaresa.com/.

Regan: You’ve had quite a career in journalism and publishing. How long did you write your column before you had your first book, “Spouse Calls,” published in 2014?

Barnes: I began writing for Stars and Stripes in 2007, so I had several years’ worth of weekly columns to choose from, and it was difficult to narrow them down. My columns covered many issues affecting military families, some from my own experience and others from interviews. The columns we chose for the book are about the essentials of military life, stories that resonated with readers as well as in my own heart. The book also includes letters from readers who wrote to me when they were touched by certain topics.

R: What would be one or two of your favorite anecdotal stories in the book?

B: Oh, dear, that’s almost like asking me to choose my favorite child. I did write about my children’s experiences and what they learned from being military kids, so those are at the top. I also interviewed Gold Star spouses and parents, and those are difficult but important stories to tell. I also wrote often about what our family loved about military life, how honored we were to live it, and the lifelong friendships it gave us. It’s impossible to choose just one story.

Regan: In your book, you state, “In military life—in every life—we are called to do things we never wanted to do. We will choose either to do what is comfortable or what makes a difference.” What do you believe most people do?

B: Most of us surely want our lives to count, to make a difference. We may not always want to make the difficult choices, do the hard work, or endure the experiences that it takes to make that difference. The calling I was writing about inspires me to pay attention to what it takes each day to make a positive difference for someone or in some way--and then to do that thing. Even if it’s not the easy choice. Not that I’m always successful! I choose what’s comfortable plenty of times; but making the hard choices which make a difference is something I aim for.

R: What’s your sense of the state of our military’s overall morale? What can people do to help military families?

B: Support for military families happens through relationships. The best way to help military families is to be friends with them, at church, at school, at the Y, wherever you meet them. It’s not just about what military families need, it’s also about what they have to offer. As friends, as citizens, and as neighbors, we’re really a great bunch. Of course, I might be biased, since I’ve been in a military family all my life.

Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.

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R: I see that Seasons of my Military Student won a Gold in education award at the 2019 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards back in May?

B: I’ve been editing books for Elva Resa since 2013. Yes, we are really proud of Seasons of My Military Student. This book provides tools and strategies for parents and teachers to support military kids when they transition from school to school. There’s really no other book like it. It can make such a difference for military-connected students who might change schools six times before they graduate from high school. My kids are grown, but I wish I’d had this book when they were changing teachers, curriculum, or testing standards every couple of years. It’s a major challenge for military families with each move, and this book is making a difference already.

R: What has been your most memorable experiences so far both personally traveling as a military wife and mother? You’ve lived in a dozen states, two counties overseas, and one U.S. Territory.

B: Seeing the world is a wonderful thing, but our best memories are about the people more than the places. Mark and I and our children found so many good friends from all over. Being with our friends, no matter where we were, was most precious thing to us. Now that we’re in Summerville, we feel the same way about the friends we’ve made here. We love living here, being with our friends and now having our children come home as often as possible. We enjoy travel too, but we mostly enjoy the feeling from having found a home after all our travels.

R: Your daughter, Jessie Barnes, wrote (or illustrated) Coloring My Military Life? What’s next for you?

B: She did, and I am so proud of the coloring book and all of Jessie’s work! I’m the editor of another new book, a humorous look at family life by a navy spouse and a wonderful writer, Lisa Smith Molinari. Her book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: True Lit Com, comes out in the spring. Jessie designed the cover and interior for that one, so it’s gorgeous, as well as a terrific read! You can find our books online as well as at great bookstores like Main Street Reads!

Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.