Writer, Airman finds beauty through adversity in flowers

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

“Beauty comes in different forms. When we see beauty, we assume that it had a great life; but there is more than meets the eye. Even the most beautiful soul comes from a place of hardship and sorrow. There are many tragedies that happen to us all; whether it is domestic abuse or sexual trauma, we will triumph and continue to bloom like flowers.”

These words are from Zhyronn Carter, a master sergeant at the 373rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. She currently works at the Alaska Mission Operations Center as the section chief for education and training, and the words are from her book published in November 2016.

Carter said the book consists of poems about domestic abuse and sexual trauma from different points of view.

“These obstacles do not affect just the person going through the trauma, but also friends and family,” she said.

Her inspiration sprung from the thought of seeing something beautiful and wondering how that object became so pretty. This led her to write using flowers to tell the story.

There are flowers that are beautiful, and grow in the oddest of places, she said. “Each person is beautiful, but each person had to overcome some things to get to the point where they bloom into a beautiful person.”

Each flower in the book relays the story of how domestic abuse and sexual trauma have affected its life, both good and bad.

“Here, you will (find) solace and comfort,” Carter said.

The 20-year Airman admits it only took her a month to write the book.

“I was going to my friend’s retirement ceremony in Georgia,” she said. “Between flights, I started to write. On the way back, realized that there was a theme.”

When Carter finished writing, her next goal was to get it published. She said that was the difficult part.

“I wrote this book, but I did not know how to publish it. So I ‘Googled’ book publishers and happened upon a quiz,” said the North Carolina-native.

The quiz asked a few question about the genre of the book and the author’s desire. Then, the site matched Carter with two publishing companies. After submitting her work to the publishers, she received two offers.

But, Carter said her purpose was not to make money from the book, but to help others.

“I am hoping that people realize that everyone is affected by sexual and domestic abuse and trauma,” she said. “Instead of thinking that ‘It does not affect me because it did not happen to me,’ I want people to understand that it affects everyone and it is everyone’s responsibility to support individuals that had to deal with these issues.”

Carter also wanted to show that people truly do not know everyone’s struggles. On the outside, the person may be beautiful, but it took strength, courage and perseverance to achieve that beauty, she said.

Carter said her accomplishments could not have happened without her team and family.

“I would like to thank my husband for the encouragement and the JBER (Sexual Assault Response Coordinator) office, and the Women’s Veteran Network for reading over the draft and encouraging me to follow my dream,” Carter said.

Carter said she has been writing poems, plays and short stories since she was in sixth grade, and likes the effect her writing has on people.

“Words convey so much emotion that they can make the reader see, touch and feel what the author is saying,” she said.

Carter is currently working on her second book, which will focus on a woman warrior. Additionally, she is hoping to turn her current book into a stage play.