Veterans Book Club Celebrating Women’s History Month with a Discussion of Soldier Girls

The Veterans Book Club will meet on Wednesday March 22 at 5:00 in Fireside Room B to discuss, Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War.

Vicki Bloom, the Dean of Libraries at IU South Bend selected this book because, “With more women enlisting in today’s armed forces, I thought it would be interesting to read about the military experience from a female perspective . . . Soldier Girls follows three women from small towns in Indiana over a 12 year period. . . I liked the fact that these women were members of the National Guard. They had different expectations, motivations, and family responsibilities when they signed up.”

Book club members were enthusiastic when they heard about the next selection. Several had already read the book, and thought it was an engrossing story with an interesting local angle. According to the Indianapolis Star, The 2008 deployment was the largest for Indiana since World War II, and in 2009 Indiana deployed more members of its National Guard than any other state.

The author, Helen Thorpe, is a journalist who has written for a number of national publications including, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. The book was selected as a best book of the year by Publisher’s Weekly, and as an Editor’s Pick in the New York Times. Time magazine named it one of the top-ten non-fiction books of 2014.

The book follows the story of three very different women. A New York Times article describes the main characters:

Michelle Fischer who thought of herself as a ”music-loving, pot-smoking, left-leaning hippie,” signed up because it would pay for college and enable her to live on campus.

Debbie Helton, a beauty salon manager, signed up in the 1980s because she wanted to emulate her father, who had been an Army drill sergeant . . . at 49, she had become a cherished den mother to the men, and growing number of women, there.

Desma Brooks signed up in 1996 on what she calls a dare. . . [W]ith a cratering marriage and three children, she also found herself dependent on the paychecks, which supplemented her factory job.

None of them expected to be deployed oversees until after 9/11.

Ultimately, this is a story of unlikely friendship forged in dramatic and traumatic experience. Bloom finds hope in that, “Despite their many differences, the three women accepted and supported each other.”

The book club is open to veterans, their families and others in the campus and community interested in veteran’s experiences. Copies of the book are available for check-out in the Schurz library or by contacting the library director Vicki Bloom at

“Utterly absorbing, gorgeously written, and unforgettable” – Boston Globe

“Raises important questions about how men and women serve together and the differences in how they experience war, enabling us to see the subtle challenges female soldiers face — the hardships that don’t make easy headlines.” – The Washington Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *