How do you go from military member to award-winning author? Check out Lila’s story this week on the podcast and how she started sharing the stories of military women after leaving the military behind.
Lila Holley is the multiple award-winning, Amazon bestselling visionary author behind the Camouflaged Sisters book series. This US Army Veteran honorably served 22 years on Active Duty and since retiring has helped 93 women become published authors, sharing their stories with the world. Lila is on a mission to empower storytellers to take ownership of their narrative and provide a safe space for them to share their stories. She believes there is no one better to tell these stories than the people who live them.
Joining the Military
Lila joined the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Program in high school and found what she was meant to do. But when she became pregnant at fifteen, she thought her dream of joining the military was over. Luckily, she had her family’s support and once her son was in kindergarten, she was able to join the Army. She left her son in the care of her family and then went off to boot camp to be an Intel Analyst. Her first assignment was an unaccompanied tour to Korea for 13 months. And then after Korea, she came back to the states and was reunited with her son.
Single Mom in the Army
It was tough to be a single mother and be in the Army. There were a number of challenges, but she attributes her success to being able to work hard and always finding supporting families that were able to help her as she moved and advanced in her career.
At the seven-year mark, she became a Warrant Officer. Warrant Officers focus directly on their job and are technical experts. While Officers are often pulled away to manage people and run the daily tasks the Warrant Officers stay focused on the mission and the job. She loved being an Intel Analyst and was able to thrive in her career.
She deployed in 2004. She had gotten married a few years earlier and her husband was also active duty Army. They knew separation would be part of their story. And for the first three years, they lived in different states. And then when they were finally stationed together her husband left for a deployment. Then shortly after his homecoming, she left for Iraq. Her husband talked about needing time to adjust back to normal life and she used his cues to help with her own transition back after deployment. She also came home to her two-year-old daughter. On top of all that, her husband had transitioned out of the military while she was overseas. Life had changed a lot, but through open communication and a lot of grace, they were able to continue on.
Support From Her Husband
Her husband played the role of supporter for the last seven years of her career and she talked about how important the support of military spouses is not only to their service member but the military as a whole. Military spouses often make countless sacrifices that go unrecognized and her husband and daughter were not exempt. They moved 4 times her last five years in the service. But she always knew she had her husband’s support.
Leaving the Military
She transitioned out of the military and planned to knock it out of the park-like she had with all other challenges she had faced. But leaving the military meant she lost a part of herself and it took years to figure out the new Lila and find herself again.
Through that process, she created Camouflaged Sisters. So far, they have shared 93 stories of military women through the books they have published on Amazon. She is a leader for other women veterans and encourages women to get involved in the military community and share their stories. She also wants people to know that transitioning takes time. The military leaves a mark on your life and it could be 3 years or 33 years, finding yourself after the military will take time.
Connect with Lila:
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