‘When Dad Deploys’: Pleasant Grove vet publishes books for military families

December 26, 2018

Leslie Zimmerman knows she’d deploy again if she was still in the military. But now, as a mom of three, she knows it would be difficult.

“Just leaving my kids for the weekend, I wonder how parents are able to do it for six months, nine months, a year,” Zimmerman said.

It’s a situation where families don’t have a choice but to separate. She’s hoping with the introduction of her two children’s books aimed at military families, she can help make the transition easier.

“This gives parents and children a little bit of control over how they feel,” Zimmerman said.

The Pleasant Grove mom, recent Utah Valley University graduate and former combat medic, has released “When Dad Deploys” and “When Mom Deploys,” two books that address how to communicate during a separation and that life can go on even when a parent is absent.

Except for some artwork that has been adjusted and pronouns that have been switched, the books are identical. Zimmerman said she released “When Mom Deploys” so that children can see their situation reflected in a story.

“Reading a book about when your dad is deployed when your mom is deployed isn’t the same,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and honorably discharged after developing post-traumatic stress disorder. She serves as an ambassador for Continue Mission, a Utah nonprofit that helps disabled veterans and their families, and biked the Warrior 100K in 2015 in Texas with former President George W. Bush.

While Zimmerman did not have children when she deployed, she saw the impact her older sister’s deployment had on her family. When her sister was away for about two years, Zimmerman said her niece would have all her animal toys die when she played. Zimmerman said the girl believed her mother was dead because she wasn’t there.

“Every time my sister would leave, when she came back from war, they’d cry,” Zimmerman said. “They didn’t want her to go because they didn’t know what to expect.”

Zimmerman said children of a deployed parent can have depression, anxiety and anger issues when a parent is gone.

“They sometimes have the fear of moving on and enjoying their life when their parents are gone,” Zimmerman said.

Her hope is that her books give children the tools to understand what is happening when a parent deploys, teach them how to adapt and give them permission to continue with their lives. She’s kept the content of the book fairly open so that parents can add personalization as to what information they tell their children.

Zimmerman said writing the books is a way she can continue to show support for military families now that she’s outside of the service.

The two books are illustrated with Zimmerman’s younger sister, Paige Briscoe. Zimmerman, who is also the author of “Dream Big,” a children’s book about a turtle who daydreams about what he’ll be when he grows up, doesn’t anticipate she’ll write more children’s books.

“When Dad Deploys” and “When Mom Deploys” can be purchased through Zimmerman’s Facebook page at https://facebook.com/AuthorLeslieZimmerman or on Amazon.

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