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Band of Sisters Author Kirsten Holmstedt appears at UNC Wilmington

Written by UNCW Women’s Studies & Resource Center on 15 March 2010.

They may have left the war, but the war will never leave them . . .

Kirsten Holmstedt, a graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of two award-winning books, will speak in the university’s Lumina Theater at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 18. She will be joined by three female Marines who served in Iraq. The event is free and open to the public.

While researching and writing Band of Sisters, which tells the amazing true stories of women on the battlefield, Holmstedt developed strong relationships with female service members. Later, she chronicled America’s women warriors as they came home from Iraq to explore the war’s painful aftermath—including post-traumatic stress disorder, survivor’s guilt, physical wounds and other challenges—in her second book, The Girls Come Marching Home: Stories of Women Warriors Returning from the War in Iraq, 2009.

At turns heartbreaking and infuriating, The Girls Come Marching Home covers a compelling assortment of fighting women with a broad range of experiences and backgrounds. Holmstedt tackles controversial issues head-on, from racism, sexual harassment and drugs to the difficulties of getting treatment from the Veterans Administration. Capturing these women’s unique voices, Holmstedt lets them speak for themselves about their trials and tribulations, their hopes and dreams, their frustrations and achievements.

Holmstedt received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Drake University and her master’s degree in creative writing from UNCW. She has testified before Congress, spoken to countless college audiences, civic and military groups, and appeared on The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, BBC’s The World, and C-SPAN, among other TV and radio programs.

She will be joined at UNCW three female Marines chronicled in her books. Rosie Noel, the first female Marine gunnery sergeant to receive a Purple Heart, was wounded at Al Asad Airfield and appears in Band of Sisters. Cpl. Oyoana Allende was wounded when the convoy she was riding in was hit by a suicide bomber, resulting in three female Marines being killed and 11 wounded, which was the deadliest day for female soldiers in Iraq. Sgt. Jude Eden served in Fallujah just months after Sgt Allende. In addition to supporting data communications on and around Camp Fallujah, she also did Entry Checkpoint Duty, searching Iraqi women and children as they entered the city.

This event is co-sponsored by the UNCW Women’s Studies & Resource Center and the Upperman African American Cultural Center.