My name is Jessica Scott. I am a soldier. I am a mother. I am a wife.
In 2009, Army second lieutenant Jessica Scott deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. She thought deploying was the hardest thing she'd ever do.
She was wrong.
This is the story of a mother coming home from war and learning to be a mom again. This is the story of a lieutenant making the grade and becoming a company commander. This is the journey of a writer persevering through a hundred rejections. This is the story of a soldier learning to be a woman again. This is the story of a wife waiting for the end of a war.
This is the journey as it happened, without commentary.
Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.
Oprah has called her. True story.
Her debut novel BECAUSE OF YOU launched Loveswept, the first Random House digital imprint.
She's written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and is currently a company commander stationed at Fort Hood.
Most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.
Connect with Jessica at
Excerpt to The Long Way Home by Jessica Scott
In 2009, I kissed my children goodbye and deployed
I thought deploying would be the hardest thing I'd
I was wrong.
Coming home from war is not an event, not a
solitary moment on the parade field. I never knew
what it would take to walk through my front door and
become a mother after a year away.
This is my story of coming home from war. Of
kissing my children and learning to be their mom
again. Of taking command of my company and growing
up from a smart-mouthed lieutenant to more
thoughtful commander. Of being a wife at the end of
A mom. A soldier. A writer. A wife.
If you’ve been following the journey thus far, thank
you for joining me again. If you’re reading it for the
first time, I hope you enjoy.
December 27, 2009
WHEN YOU GET HOME from deployment, the
Army sends you through all this reintegration training.
Some of it is worthwhile, a lot of it is a waste of time
and even more is a check-the-block exercise. I
understand the intent behind it, but frankly, I didn’t
need or want most of it. There was, however, one class
that I really got a lot out of and it was taught by the
chaplains. They discussed reintegrating with your
families and I paid attention because honestly, I’ve
been worried about reuniting with my kids.
They talked about expectations and reactions and
how you and they are different now than when you left
home. I knew all this but still I paid attention. There
was a lot of anticipation within me about seeing the
kids and getting my family back together.
I thought I was prepared.
So when we’re in the middle of a busy rest stop in
New Jersey last night and my youngest starts crying
out of the blue, I wasn’t prepared to hear why she was
upset. She had real, painful tears, the kind of crying
that sounded like her little heart hurt. When I asked
her what was wrong, she sobbed, “I don’t think you love
It was not a fake cry. It wasn’t a cry for attention.
And I had no idea how to react. Instantly, I started
crying. In the middle of a rest stop, with people
wondering what the heck was going on, I was trying to
get my oldest’s coat on her while trying to get my
youngest to understand that I did love her and I had
My husband freaked out when he walked up and
saw me and our youngest both in tears. My oldest
rested her head on my shoulder and told me she knew I
loved her. But none of that helped until I could make
my youngest understand.
It was a brutal episode and one I did not expect.
They tell you about the babies not knowing you or your
grade school kids wanting to talk incessantly but
nothing prepared me for my three year old’s confusion
and true heartache.
It’s better today. She’s back to normal and so am I,
but the pain from last night lingers. So today, I’m
hugging both of them more and telling them I love
them. I’d already been doing that but apparently, it
wasn’t enough to make up for a year of no hugs and no
up close “I love you”s. The web cam was good but it
I don’t know if I can ever make up to either of them
for being gone. I don’t know what else is coming.
And I don’t know that I’m prepared to deal with it.
The Unexpected Mommy Box
January 4, 2010
IN DAVID FINKLE’S THE Good Soldiers, Finkle
describes a “Bad News Bucket,” an emotional coping
cache that, once filled, puts a soldier near the breaking
point. According to Finkle, who heard of the idea from
General Petraus (I believe), soldiers need good news in
order to drain the bad news they carry around inside
When I read Finkle’s description, I thought, this
was it exactly. There were days in Iraq where I simply
couldn’t handle anything else, that I was barely
holding on and needed to get away and pull it back
together so that I could continue.
I did not expect this once I returned home but
apparently, I have my own version of the bad news
bucket: the Mommy Box. I discovered very early on in
my deployment that I needed to stay busy in order to
keep my mind on the tasks at hand and not sit and
mope about my kids. They were happy, they were
healthy, and they were in my mom’s more than capable
hands. I didn’t need to worry.
What I was doing, apparently, was shoving
everything inside the Mommy Box and closing the lid. I
shut those emotions down and ignored them.
Except that sometimes, the Box got too full. Like on
my oldest’s first day of school. My husband and I both
agree that the hardest day on this deployment was
missing that event. Birthdays we could recreate.
Anniversaries, we would ignore. But the first day of
school is something we can’t get back and we don’t get
But having put everything aside for the duration, I
fully expected to come home and simply go back to
normal. I did not expect to be crying the first weekend
back with the kids every day for four days. It seemed
like I couldn’t stop.
And I also discovered that drinking makes the
Mommy Box even harder to handle. Apparently, alcohol
unleashes the flood of emotions that I’ve still got boxed
up inside me.
I can sit back and pretend that everything is fine
now that we’re all home, having hauled the entire
family back from the diaspora, but that would be lying
to myself. I’m not fine but I am one hell of a lot better
now that I’ve got my family back together. There are
still a slew of emotions inside me that I still have to
handle and I’m sure they’re going to leak out, a little at
a time (because I’m not drinking anymore, but that’s
The Mommy Box was set in a corner for an entire
year. Now, I guess, it’s time to clean it out.
Banning New Year’s Resolutions
January 8, 2013
I’M NOT ONE TO start the New Year off by saying
I’m going to loose fifteen pounds by February 15. It’s
never happened before and I’m not sure why I would
think starting now is anything different than on
But I am a big fan of goals and I’m an even bigger
fan of attainable goals. So this year, I’m setting goals
and I’m telling y’all about them so at the end of 2010, I
can come back and let you know how I did.
Last year, I didn’t really have any goals, other than
come home from Iraq and landing an agent. I managed
to do both, except that the agent part didn’t really
stick. So I’m on the agent hunt again, and that’s okay.
And making it home safe and sound from Iraq is an
extra bonus that’s a whole ’nother adventure in and of
This year, however, is different. This year, I want to
get an agent who really wants me and my body of work
as a client and is willing to say “here’s what we need to
do, let’s go.” I hope the book I’m working on now will be
the book that gets me out there.
This year, I will be better at being a mom. Granted,
last year, I had no time to be a mom, other than an
absentee one, but this year, I’m going to focus on what’s
really important: my kids. I don’t get that time back
and they need me more than anyone else does.
The only other thing I’m going to do is keep
reading. I’m absolutely positive that I won’t have the
same amount of time to read in the States as I had in
Iraq, but I’m not going to give up the passion I was able
to rediscover this past year. There are books I’m simply
dying to read that are coming out soon and I’m going to
read them, not just stick them on my book shelf!
So that’s it. Those are my goals. You might notice I
did not put sell a novel on there. I can’t control that. I
can’t control if I land an agent, but I certainly hope I
do. So we’ll see how it goes.
The Long Way Home Official Page: http://bit.ly/1043hwW
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/ZK2U8H
Jessica has graciously offered her entire backlist in eBOOk form to one lucky person who comments on this post Please leave your name and email to be entered. I need to be able to contact you to claim your prize. Giveaway ends Friday March 22nd.