By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleOctober 6, 2011
The Van Noy Library hosted a discussion focusing on the hardship and triumphs of a Belvoir Family during a book signing event, Sept. 29, in the Fort Belvoir Community Center.
Book author Susan Oliver Nelson, author of "Trips of Daisy," spoke of the struggle and growth of her Family during her husband Michael's approximately 1,000 day deployment.
The Nelson's story is encapsulated in Susan Oliver's 126-page novel.
Published by PublishAmerica this year, "Trips of Daisy" is based off headlines from the Iraq war and the journal writings of Susan Oliver and Michael during Michael's deployments in Iraq in 2004 and 2006.
"Two tours of Iraq, three anniversaries, nine birthdays, countless holidays and approximately 1,000 days of our lives," wrote Susan Oliver.
Michael enlisted after 9/11 serving as an Army medic at the age of 33.
The deployments were the first time the couple spent significant time away from each other.
The living situation at home was difficult for the Nelsons after Michael returned from his first tour of duty.
"I was the same and he was completely different," said Susan Oliver.
Constant clashing and lack of understanding took a toll on the couples' relationship. Michael, who started displaying symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder during this period, struggled making the adjustment to civilian life.
"There is certain simplicity about being deployed," Michael wrote in the novel. "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?"
At the time, Susan Oliver didn't understand the impact the war had on her husband which gave her a sense of dejection.
"I was really trying to get away from life," Susan Oliver said.
She said writing journals, that detailed her experiences as a spouse and his experiences as a Solider, were very important in helping the couple understand the hardships each were enduring.
Susan Oliver said "Trips of Daisy" made her Family stronger.
"I couldn't put the book down," said Donna Ramsey, Van Noy librarian and the event's organizer.
Ramsey, who is required to put together one event per year, said she choose Susan Oliver because of the biographical nature of "Trips of Daisy." She enjoys reading stories of real people enduring through struggles and she thought the deployment was a very appropriate topic.
Ramsey finds the different perspectives in "Trips of Daisy," fascinating and this kept her engaged throughout the novel.
Susan Oliver said she attempted to make the book read as if it could be any person's experiences during deployments.
She believes this was important to give Families a relatable source of information to help cope with the time apart.
Susan Oliver was presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation at the conclusion of the event.
She said 50 percent of the proceeds from her novel will go the Fisher House Foundation.