Staff Sgt. Reagan Gardley of the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine credits her poetry with keeping her strong through a deployment to Iraq with the 345th Medical Detachment.

"I have a hard time expressing how I feel verbally," she said. "There have been times during this deployment where as a team leader I have come head-to-head with [fellow Soldiers]. When I could not speak, I would write my thoughts out. Then I was able to speak."

She organized open mike nights at Camp Liberty so Soldiers could express themselves.

"Folks just need someone to listen, to hear them," Gardley said. "Just to get it out and know that they are not holding it in ... even if that person cannot help. It's like sharing a burden."

"The pen is my therapy. If I have the urge to write, I will write on anything," she added.

Gardley has written poetry since the fifth grade, but first found her voice through writing short stories. Most of her work narrates a story rather than focusing solely on emotion.

However, Gardley says she usually finds her voice for writing when under stress or a heavy heart.

"I have tried to write just on a whim, and my pen won't move," she said.