Mari K. Eder for CWV Book Corner May

This month’s Women Veteran Authors Book Corner author is U.S. Army Veteran Mari K. Eder, who served for 36 years from 1977-2013.

Each month, VA’s Center for Women Veterans profiles a different woman Veteran author as part of its Women Veteran Authors Book Corner.

Before retiring, Mari K. Eder published a strategic communications primer, “Leading the Narrative.” Her latest book is called, “American Cyberscape, detailing the unraveling of trust and truth in American institutions.” The latter explores systemic and individual issues, including privacy, disinformation campaigns and media excesses, plus their effects on values and relationships. Both scholarly and practical, her other book is a groundbreaking treatise on society’s challenges – and an inspirational read for women who served: “The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line.”

Tell us about your service.

I was the first full-time military deputy chief of Public Affairs at HQ Department of the Army; first full-time MG deputy to the Chief, Army Reserve; and the first commander of a new 2-star command – the Joint and Special Troops Command. Today I write, speak and consult on communications, ethics and leadership.

What was your Military branch, career field, and years of service?

I was a Military Police officer and held a second specialty in public affairs. My last MP position was battalion command. During U.S. operations in the Balkans, I was the deputy director of Public Affairs at U.S. European Command and worked the media relations desk. Following 9/11, I was recalled to active duty during OIF and again served at U.S. European Command HQ. Later, I was again recalled for OEF and worked at Army Public Affairs and the Office of the Chief, Army Reserve. I spent time in Qatar at U.S. Central Command working communications issues.

What was your proudest memory of service?

Taking command of a new Army Reserve unit that was designed to provide all of the high-tech capabilities and expertise to joint, combined and Army units worldwide.

What was your inspiration to write?

Throughout my career, I have written about communications issues, and the cultural changes of the past 20 years led me to comment on how our deteriorating standards of civility and lowered respect for expertise and facts have led to a real schism in society – from cultural norms to a cultural divide. I wanted to examine these issues in such a way that would allow people to understand the forces behind such changes and to see how they could make a difference themselves.

How has your military experience shaped your creativity or how you express yourself?

Military experience goes beyond service and mission focus. It teaches resilience, teamwork, discipline and drive. If a person wants to make a difference in life, in whatever way, it can be done. Military service, through exposing me to such a wide variety of talented professionals, expanded my horizons, challenged preconceptions and gave me greater opportunity to express my creative ideas.

What advice would you give other women Veterans who may be considering writing?

Just start. Get the ideas down on paper. Some days the narrative really flows. Other days it doesn’t. But with focus, and a can-do determination to tell the story, it will get done. Even the parts that seem rough at first can be highly polished later.

How do you believe that women Veteran authors can be instrumental in shaping society’s understanding of women Veterans’ military experience and their contributions?

Women are and have been there – serving in every conflict since the Revolutionary War. Their experiences need to be shared.  Women can do the job, they just need to be given the chance.

While we see more and more women taking advantage of the options to volunteer – to challenge themselves and to succeed – we need to see women standing up to share the stories of their journey. Being modest is a virtue but we need more role models. I want to see women military commentators on CNN. I want to see military leadership books written by women. I want to see the day when we are finally past the [newstories] of “first woman [to do something]. We shouldn’t have any more firsts! Diversity in every unit, every mission, every undertaking should be the standard. Women in positions of responsibility should be unremarkable, not unique.

What were some of the obstacles and challenges you faced while writing this book?

I found that I had little peer competition in writing a book like “American Cyberscape” because it is a topic that many are not interested in addressing. It certainly can be perceived as a subject that could result in considerable criticism, and I understand that some people are reluctant to ‘put themselves out there.’ But that is not a reason to stop thinking, writing and speaking truth.

What are your recommendations for illustrating, book cover selection and the publishing process?

Look at sites that give solid advice to writers, such as Make your manuscript as professional looking as possible. Run it through an editing program such as PerfectIt4 or another like it. Research how to write a book proposal for agents and publishers. As for illustrating, I would look at sites like Fiverr. It is possible to discover some great illustrators there – plus options for making a business card or logo. If an author is considering self-publishing, and I’ve done that too, I would carefully compare companies, paying particular attention to copyright, royalties and deadlines.

What is one significant thing we should know about you?

I wasn’t expected to succeed in life – it took me a number of tries to get into college. I failed at a lot of things I tried in the Army.  I wasn’t selected for other opportunities. But I kept going. If I were to have a motto it would be this: “I will find a way or make one.”

How has writing this book helped you?

Writing this book has been a significant education for me in how we are witnessing a slow-moving revolution on how society, culture and business standards for communication are continuing to improve. I’m most encouraged by advances in civics education – at all levels.

What is your favorite quote?

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” Maya Angelou

If you could choose one woman from any point in time to share a meal, who would she be?

Alice Marble – tennis champion, international spy, champion of desegregation for professional tennis.

By VAntage Point Contributor

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Published on May. 1, 2022

Estimated reading time is 5.5 min.

Views to date: 194

One Comment

  1. Cynthia Maxwell May 6, 2022 at 6:03 am

    An amazing journey from (1977-2013) ; remarkable achievements a true heroine. Thanks for sharing your story.

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