Washington, DC Chapter

Event Recap: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War: Author Book Talk and Dinner

Event Recap: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War: Author Book Talk and Dinner

By Jill Lynch
On May 14, 2014 the DC SLA Military Libraries Group hosted an author talk with Kayla Williams at Vaso’s Mediterranean Bistro in Old Town Alexandria. Kayla was invited to talk to us about her newest book, Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War over an intimate dinner with a small group of 16 librarians and guests.

The dinner was located on the second floor of the recently opened, Vaso’s Mediterranean Bistro on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. We had the entire space to ourselves and it was elegantly decorated for our event. The upstairs facility had a view overlooking King Street, a private bar and restrooms. DC/SLA member and CUA library student Elizabeth Lieutenant was posted downstairs at the entry to the Bistro to hand out name tags and direct attendees upstairs.
Guests started arriving just after 6:00 PM for cocktails, appetizers and networking. While sipping on drinks and enjoying bites of spanakopita, fried calamari and triple dip on pita bread slices, we caught up with old friends and new acquaintances. Kayla arrived early and socialized with us before the talk started.
Time quickly carried us later into the evening and everyone settled into their seats close to 7:00 PM. Salad was served as Kayla was being introduced. She told us all to enjoy our meals, as she had no problems with talking over clinking forks and plates.
Kayla started her talk by giving us some background information about how she met her husband, Brian McGough, during her year-long deployment to Iraq during the early years of the war, which is documented in her first book, Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army. The remainder of the talk centered on the years that take place after she returned home from war. Kalyla shared details of the many challenges she experienced as a female combat veteran and new wife including the lack of care returning war veterans receive, the difficulties of reintegration into civilian life, and the strain of caring for Brian during his rehabilitation from traumatic brain injury he received during an ambush in Iraq. Kayla also described how energizing it is for her to advocate for better care for future generations of returning warriors.

Dinner was a choice of Chicken François or Eggplant Parmesan and was served just before the end of the talk. Kayla is a vegetarian and her first book details how difficult it was for her to find healthy meat-free meals while on deployment. It was a blessing that Vaso’s gave us a vegetarian option.
Kayla sat down to eat as most of us were finishing up. She sat in the center of the “T” shaped table and entertained questions while dessert and coffee were served. She answered all of our questions with a combination of directness, allegory, and wit and she left us laughing frequently with a point well-illustrated through clever humor. Once again we found ourselves short of time and unfortunately the fellowship couldn’t continue as long as we might have liked. The dinner was scheduled to end at 8:30 PM but we were still chatting well past 9:00 PM. Before leaving for the evening, Kayla reminded us that she would be more than happy to speak at any of our libraries.
The DC/SLA Military Libraries Group is grateful that Kayla Williams spent an evening away from her family to share her story with us. We were also pleased with Vaso’s Mediterranean Bistro and would like to thank the management and staff for facilitating this wonderful and informative event.

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