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Army wife and West Palm Beach resident Tori Eversmann becomes a first-time author with "The Immortals," a novel exploring life on the homefront during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
A smile spreads across Tori Eversmann's face as her husband appears from a dark room in their West Palm Beach home.
“I don't mean to interrupt but wanted to say hi,” says Matt Eversmann, a retired Army sergeant-turned-professional motivational speaker.
Tori shows a deep compassion for her husband of 13 years, who has faced death multiple times during his military service. He inspired her to write her first book titled The Immortals. The nine-year labor of love, published on Veterans Day, chronicles the sacrifices of an Army wife struggling to keep her marriage afloat, child nurtured and life manageable.
In 1993, before the couple met, Matt faced death in Mogadishu, Somalia, as commander of a combat group in the longest sustained firefight since the Vietnam War. Between 2005 and 2007, now with a 3-year-old daughter at home, he faced death again as an infantryman in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The raid in East Africa earned Matt a Bronze Star and inspired the movie “Black Hawk Down,” starring Josh Hartnett as the young sergeant. Matt's involvement in the Middle East combat led Tori to write the novel.
“I am passionate about the women who are really the unsung heroes while their men are fighting at war,” she says. “It's really important to get that perspective, and hopefully, I will be opening that door.”
During the first part of Matt's 15-month deployment to Yusufiyah, Iraq, from Fort Drum in New York, Tori separated herself from the other wives. She said she wanted to protect her independence. The spirited Skidmore College graduate who crewed on a sailboat through the West Indies and climbed mountains in Colorado had no interest in being the spouse who longed for her rock to return from duty.
Then tragedy struck. A friend's husband suffered a traumatic brain injury when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. Tori visited him at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Maryland and experienced “an epiphany.”
“I was very naïve in my understanding of what military life was,” Tori says. “I had a 180-degree turnaround. I realized it was always this triage situation on the part of the wives. I realized we all had to be on 24/7 in case something happened.”
The wives became the sorority sisters she never had at school. She dubbed them the “Diva War Brides.” Through their support, her anxiety about Matt dying on the battlefield allayed and her anger about uncontrollable situations subsided.
“I was very, very frightened that he wasn't going to come back and I was going to be a widow at 35,” Tori says. “I really hated feeling victimized by the government.”
In 293 pages of fiction, she describes her deepest emotions, path to empowerment and perseverance through the eyes of protagonist Calli Coleman.
She is hopeful the book, which can be purchased on Amazon and at The Palm Beach Book Store on Royal Poinciana Way, inspires others to turn fear into strength.
“We will always be engaged in a conflict somewhere in the world, and I hope to inspire others touched by these wars,” Tori says.