*Guest Post from Author Rina Neiman*
I have never served in the military, but I am half-Israeli, which is synonymous with being from a military family. Israel is a country where every citizen must serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) when they turn 18. Women serve for 2 years and men for 3.
In 1947 my mother served first in the pre-state paramilitary Palmach, where she worked for a time in an underground munitions plant. (Read more about that in my book, Born Under Fire!) After the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948, she worked in IDF intelligence and then moved to New York where she worked at the first Israel Consulate. (Read about that in my next book!)
Unfortunately, she died when I was eleven years old and there were so many questions about her life that were never answered. When I uncovered her belongings after my father’s death years later, I found photographs and documents that I had never seen before. Most significantly, I found a sketch book that her late-brother wrote and illustrated about a trip they took to the Galilee in 1947. This was the uncle we never met, but knew was her best friend. For the first time, I had a view into their relationship. It was also a snapshot of what life was like for this first generation of modern day Israelis. Not only did I have a historical document, but I had had the feel of the place and time thanks to the uncle that I never met.
For the Service Member
Think of writing during deployment as a conversation with your loved ones, your closest and best friends. Remember, you are seeing a different part of the country or world, one that your family may never see in person. Where are you? What do you do? If you can’t or aren’t allowed to talk about specific details, questions like these can be answered: What does it feel like? Smell like? What tastes are the same? Different?
If writing isn’t for you, then take pictures. Or keep a journal with random thoughts and notes and the occasional hilarious candy wrapper that’s not-in-English. Little things collected here and there give your family a sense of what you experienced. You can fill in what you thought about in writing. or later in person. Documenting this experience in some way gives your family and friends a snapshot (pun intended) of your time during deployment, and a way to share stories of your journey away from home.
For the Family Members
Those of you who are not deployed and home, think of it in the same way. Track the successes and adventures that your family experiences while your loved one is away. When they return, you will have a roadmap of time spent apart, that you can share at a later date.
About the Author
Rina Z. Neiman is a writer, event producer and public relations professional. Born Under Fire is based on the true story of her mother, Shulamit Dubno Neiman, a Sabra, a musician and one of the first generation of modern-day Israelis. Rina lives in Marin County, California with her husband and son. This is her first novel.
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