About the Author
Resilience and Empowerment Post Trauma
By Colonel Lisa “La Coronela” Carrington Firmin, USAF Ret.
I am a Latina and a veteran who served her country for 30 years. I am also a combat and disabled veteran. I have multiple identities; I am a writer, a poet, a leader, a founder, a business owner, an educator, a mentor, a diversity and inclusion practitioner who is also a mother and grandmother. All my identities are important to me. They each screamed for priority at various points in my life. Am sorry to say that mi familia took a back seat to my military career on more occasions than I care to admit. Uncle Sam was an unforgiving task master. Although I was successful, I strained throughout my military career to prove women and Latinas belonged, could excel, have families, and could lead in peacetime and in combat. It was a difficult and delicate balance and came at a cost to me and my family, but I remain grateful for the opportunities and outstanding professionals I served with.
However, after the horrific murder of Vanessa Guillén, I felt compelled to write Stories from the Front. It was time for me to speak up publicly about the negative aspects of my service. As I spoke up, military and veterans started sharing their stories with me. I learned there were far more out there, I wasn’t alone. I needed to write my own story and more. I selected 13 active duty/veterans to interview and write about. It was a deeply personal and painful journey to traverse for us, but we were steadfast in our mission, to publicly share our most painful experiences in hopes of helping others.
The book spans 50 years (Vietnam to present day) with stories from each service of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and gender, race, ethnic and sexual orientation disparities. The diversity included speaks loudly to how Military Sexual Trauma can impact anyone. Stories from the Front also triumphantly weaves stories of resilience. Writing poetry became an outlet for my anger and pain. Along with therapy, the book jumpstarted my own healing journey.
I wanted to educate others so they can be in a more informed position to demand change, support MST survivors and reduce the stigma surrounding mental wellness. It is my hope that the public, the Department of Defense, and Congress will make positive changes regarding this epidemic throughout the ranks. To enact policies, programming and legislation that will put survivors’ dignity at the forefront moving forward. The practice of victim shaming and blaming must stop.
I love my country and am proud of my service. I served in combat in Iraq and was willing to lay my life down for my fellow service members and the United States. I just think it was time for me to set the record straight with the grim realities for some of us who served. If these 14 stories can help others, saves lives, impact changes regarding laws, regulations, and policy, then speaking our truths is worth divulging our vulnerability and most personal traumas. No Mas!
Colonel Lisa “La Coronela” Carrington Firmin retired from the USAF as its most senior Latina officer. A speaker, writer, poet, advocate, and Bronze Star-decorated combat veteran. Founder of Carrington Firmin LLC, she writes and provides consulting services in Leadership, Veterans, Transitions, Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and Diversity/Inclusion. Her poetry provides intimate reflection into the invisible wounds of MST, PTSD, trauma, hardship, and combat. Author of Stories from the Front: Pain, Betrayal, and Resilience on the MST Battlefield (April 2022). Founder of The University of Texas at San Antonio’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, currently serving as UTSA’s Military Liaison.