The book has launched!

Connie Kinsey, Writer-in-Residence for Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center

The book has launched! I am awfully excited. The book is a project of the Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center. Each chapter is anchored by an essay from one of the museum’s two writers-in-residence — one of them is me. The book is a serious look at gender, religion, race, identity, culture, and ethnicity in the armed forces. Active and retired service personnel, their spouses, and dependents were sent a survey asking about these things. Because the survey was completely anonymous, the open-ended questions generated additional stories from the respondents. A number of respondents agreed to contribute to the book. Thus, we have 276 pages of stories, photos, and quotes. A team of anthropologists provided a statistical analysis of the survey and their report is included as well. Though serious, the book is humorous, heartwarming, thought-provoking, informative, and infuriating — much like the military itself. This book will appeal not just to veterans, but to those who love them and want to understand their experiences. Proceeds support the museum and the writers-in-residence program.

You can read the official press release here

Discovering an old new friend

Memoirist Matthew Douglas Perry

I am a military brat. My dad was a career Marine Captain during the Vietnam era, and I grew up in military culture.

Reading Perry’s memoir of his father, the Master Sergeant, was both like finding a new friend and discovering an old one. The book’s title is You Are So Far Behind, You Think You Are In Front which is one of the Master Sergeant’s many sayings. The Master Sergeant served in the Army. Though of different ranks and different branches, the Master Sergeant reminds me of my dad in some respects–primarily in the sense of duty they both felt to their country and their refusal to tolerate nonsense.

Perry’s memoir of his father provokes both laughter and tears as many military stories do if told well.

Perry has brought his father back to life on these pages and oh how I wish I had had the opportunity to meet the Master Sergeant. Matthew Perry tells his father’s story very well.

Continue reading

Cover Reveal

For the past 18 months, I’ve been one of two Writers-in-Residence for the Museum of the American Military Family. With other folks, we have crafted a book that looks at gender, religion, race, identity, culture, and ethnicity in military environments. We did ourselves proud. The book is still in press, but the cover is ready and I’ve been given permission to share. I can’t wait until this is out in the world!

Happy Military Brats Day!

I’m working on the final proofreading of the Museum of the American Military Family’s book, E Pluribus Unum: GRAICE Under Pressure (Gender, Religion, rAce, Identity, Culture, and Ethnicity in the Military/Family.) As one of two Writers-in-Residence for the museum, I have been heavily involved with this book since January of 2021. You can learn more about the museum here.

I just got my grubby hands on the proof. Oh my. I am so proud to be a part of this project. The book is chock full of essays (11 of them are mine), photos, and quotes from survey responses that gave the book structure. The survey respondents ranged from age 9 to 92. There is even a statistical analysis and report from two anthropologists. We did it proud!

The first essay I wrote was on Identity. I also made it into a digital story which you can watch now.

The walk down Memory Lane that I took while writing my essays was by far the best time I had while experiencing the Long COVID symptom of extreme fatigue. I tired very easily and slept a lot. I had dream after dream of my deceased father, my childhood, and my experiences of the GRAICES.

That walk and a promise I made to myself finally spurred me on to begin writing a memoir based on my experiences as a brat during the Vietnam War. The memoir is a labor of love and tears. I’m referring to it as a collage–it will hold traditional memoir fare, but also short stories and poetry I have written, excerpts from my father’s letters home during his four tours as well as parts from his memoir, Expendables: Vietnam Memoir. There may even be a recipe or two.

My identity is all kinds of wrapped around my experience as a military brat. In one of my essays, I ponder how it was that the first 14 years of my life so marked me that all these years later (I’m 62), I still think of myself as a military brat.

E Pluribus Unum: GRAICE Under Pressure will be printed soon and available for purchase.

I have eight more months left in my term as Writer-in-Residence and we are already underway with the next project. I hope it proves to be as much fun as this one. I would happily serve another two-year term, but I don’t think it works like that.