By Robert TimmonsOctober 18, 2019
One day all Soldiers must transition from military service to life as a civilian. For one retired Fort Jackson drill sergeant, transitioning from military service offered him a chance to turn hobbies he is passionate about into a career.
Retired Staff Sgt. Anthony "Tony" Pichoff Garrison, a onetime infantryman, served over 20 years as a Soldier before retiring and becoming a carpenter at Fort Jackson's Directorate of Public Works. Since retiring in 2006, not only has Garrison transitioned from Soldier to carpenter, he also fulfilled a life-long dream of becoming a published author.
"I've been writing since a junior in high school," Garrison said. "I had to compile a notebook based on a theme in American literature. So, it was 10 pieces long and the last one had to be an original poem. The night before it was due, my partner wasn't going to write it, so under pressure I wrote the poem. I was bitten after that."
Garrison compiled over 100 poems since his high school days covering a variety of topics that included subjects such as military life, politics, current events, Christianity and feelings he was experiencing at the time. After amassing years of poetry, a leader within his church suggested he publish his works. Garrison accepted the offer of help to format and submit his work for publication.
Within a year, Garrison's first book titled "Yep ... I wrote about that: Through the Eyes of a Soldier" was published and offered for sale to the general public January 2018.
Only a year later, Garrison has published two additional books.
"My next one will be 'Breaking Through: Through the Eyes of a Soldier Looking Inward,'" Garrison said of the book he is working on.
While Garrison has three books already published and one on the way to completion, he said he has amassed enough content to publish eight additional books.
Armed with his smart phone at all times, Garrison said he frequently uses a note application to write down things he thinks about throughout the day. His writings have seen him through the best and worst times throughout his life. Garrison said "it's more like therapy on steroids."
Garrison is also working on an additional book of special words, a compilation of acronyms he has created and used throughout his military career and life.
"Like PEACE for instance," Garrison said with a smile. "People Eagerly Accepting Christ Everywhere ... I think it would go great on a t-shirt."
While many of Garrison's works are based on his Christian faith, he said his works also include opinions not everyone would agree with. He also feels unapologetic about his works. For him, his works are an expression of himself.
"There are opinions in here that some people may not agree with," Garrison said. "And that's ok, I encourage them to write their own book."
Garrison continues to write daily and often lives the message his poems deliver. He is married and the father of three. He also provides himself as a father figure to children within his church and community. He refers to these children as his "other kids" and has written about them in his books as well.
Garrison referred to two brothers he met during his Scout Master duties. While attending a meeting that involved crafts he discovered the boys no longer had a mother and he took them under his wing.
"I said 'ok boys, it's time to clean up. Your mother isn't here to do it,'" Garrison recounted. "That was when (one of them) said, 'but Mr. Tony, our mother's dead.' I was just gutted over it."
Garrison continues to be a presence within all the children's lives, offering them shelter, guidance and a home cooked meal when needed. He also documents their achievements in his works and will be featured in future books alongside his other works.
He also continues his work within his church and local community providing support and his carpentry skills where needed.
"No greater love hath a man than would lay down his life for his friend. A Soldier is a godly man, or woman as the case may be, for those who've fallen in battle laid down their lives for their buddies, our nation, our way of life ..." - Know Greater Love by Tony Garrison.