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‘Cup’ notes heroism on home front

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"A CUP OF COMFORT FOR MILITARY FAMILIES: Stories That Celebrate Heroism on the Home Front," edited by Colleen Sell, Adams Media, 326 pages, $9.95 (softbound)

Most people would be hard-pressed to find someone living today who was not in some way influenced by war or someone serving in the military. Many of us have relatives, friends or acquaintances who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam or more recently in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some have served in more than one campaign.

For a time in American history, returning veterans received a cold welcome home. But that is no longer the case members of the military are warmly embraced for their service.

"A Cup of Comfort for Military Families," a collection of personal essays, celebrates service and sacrifice on the battlefield and on the home front.

Released this fall in time for Veterans Day, "A Cup of Comfort" is not for as specific an audience or holiday as the title suggests. Yes, it is full of stories dealing in some way with the military, but each is written in such a way as to appeal to fans of all genres.

"Cup of Comfort" opens with Justin Ballard, a soldier stationed in Iraq, describing "The Illusion" he has created in his trailerlike living quarters. His pod has become like a dorm room in college that he retreats to in escape of the realities of base life.

The struggles and triumphs of military wives are also brought to the forefront. From struggling to maintain friendships and a sense of normalcy in "Cry for Happy" to marrying into the military in "True Identity" and the built-in support system in "The Spouses Club" and "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pans," these women stand out as unsung heroes.

Many of the essays touch on how mobile the military family is, moving from base to base on a fairly regular basis as personnel are reassigned. What is surprising is that most of the writers don't seem to regret those changes, instead focusing on the sense of belonging they feel whenever meeting another so-called "military brat."

"Cup of Comfort" is a nice collection that offers insight into the effects of the military on the family. Its heartfelt essays will appeal to multiple generations and at $9.95 makes an affordable Christmas gift for that person who has everything.

E-mail: jharrison@desnews.com