Have you ever been at a crossroads in your life and didn’t know what to do? How are you going to feed your family? How are you going to escape this thing called life and survive? In Behind the Rank, Volume One, Lila Holley compiles stories of women who dig deep inside to not only tell the stories of what they endured when they raised their right hand and was sworn into the United States Military, but also tell stories of commitment, honor and the ability to serve their country no matter what! As you turn each page and read every story, you realize every sheet, towel, rag, rank, and band-aid that has been so desperately kept tightly wrapped in order to hide their flaws and concerns, have been snatched off so that we can not only see the heart of the problem but also understand it down to the bone of the disease.
Behind the Rank gives the reader a glimpse into the world of women who answered the call to serve their country. No one ever said that it was going to be easy. The women who don the uniform every day will say you are right. It wasn’t easy because they were not only soldiers, they were daughters, granddaughters, mothers, sisters, aunts, wives and more. Their lives didn’t stop when they took off the uniform, they just changed clothes.
The military, for many years, was seen as a male-dominated profession. It took women almost twice as long to achieve awards and respect as it did for their counterparts. One thing that rang true, the women never gave up! In Behind the Rank, you will hear stories about the challenges they faced when leaving their children. For example, co-author, Sharon Finney opens up her heart and tells her story. Her story is somewhat familiar, trying to balance being a soldier, wife, as well as mother. She questioned every move she made… should she depart from the military? Can she be both a soldier and mom? She eventually departed from the military and became a civilian wife. While still questioning her decision, she learned that she was not becoming a civilian wife, but rather a single parent. Her story doesn’t stop here. If you continue to turn the pages, you will realize that nothing is easy. She put her uniform back on as a reservist and served her country not without sacrifice. By that time, 9/11 happened. She now had to figure out who would care for her children while she deployed and took care of the country. While away, she often thought of children. Will they remember her? Do they know she loves them? She soon became depressed and frustrated with not seeing her them. So, she did what any mother would do, she turned in her paperwork and it was final this time. She is now a civilian, and single mom.
There are many other stories to be shared, such as the story of Angel Rhodes having to mask her heartfelt sadness behind her smile. The truth behind her smile was darkness. A darkness she could not escape. Angel was deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom when her whole world turned upside down. Soldiers were having a hard time coping with being away from family. One soldier, in particular, would often talk to Angel and she would listen to his fears and concerns. However, she couldn’t help him. He took his own life. She was devastated. Angel seemed to sink deeper and deeper into darkness. No one knew her secret. She smiled to keep from losing her mind.
Lila Holley’s, Behind the Rank, Volume One, is a compilation of heartfelt stories, courage, and commitment of women who took up the flag to serve their country. These stories are also about encouragement and letting others know that they are not alone. There is healing in the written word. I pray that we all understand that “Freedom is not Free,” it is the sacrifice of women every day willing to put on the uniform and that is what makes us totally free.