- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2009

Army Spc. Casey Sean Harmon says he was called by God when he enlisted as a chaplain’s assistant.

The son of a preacher, he was raised in a home with Christian values. “This way I could serve my country and reach out to other soldiers the best way I knew how,” Spc. Harmon said in an interview.

In 2006, at age 18, Spc. Harmon published his first work of fiction, originally titled “To the Ends of the Earth.” The book is being reprinted under a new title, “The Thousand Year Voyage.” The novel is a mixture of science fiction and biblical teachings; he uses themes from the Bible’s Book of Revelation.

“The point of the book is to inspire thought,” Spc. Harmon said. “It incorporates a little bit of everything and combines my interest in quantum physics with my faith.”

Spc. Harmon deploys to Afghanistan in October with the 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, 108th ADA Brigade. He hopes to sell 5,000 copies of his book and will donate $2,500 of the proceeds. Spc. Harmon said funds will go to Holt International, a nonprofit organization that tends to homeless and needy children throughout the world, and Family Outreach Ministries, an organization that cares for American families in need by pooling the services of local pastors and nongovernmental organizations such as the American Red Cross. He also will make donations to his unit’s Family Readiness Group.

“I sat down and prayed about it,” Spc. Harmon said. “Behind every good soldier is a good family. The soldiers are thanked and remembered, but we need to remember the families, too.” His wife, Lydia, is supporting her husband’s endeavors. Mrs. Harmon helped her husband make revisions to the second version of his book, helped edit the manuscript, maintains his Web site and promotes his work.

Spc. Harmon said he loved writing short stories, starting at the age of 7. “As a young child, I had many obstacles to overcome,” he said. “Reading books was my refuge. It was my way of escaping this world that constantly tells us that there is so much that we can’t do.”

In his youth, Spc. Harmon’s favorite writers were English author H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, commonly known as the founder of the science-fiction genre. He further developed his writing talents as a student in the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. He was able to contact a number of book publishers through one of his mentors, best-selling author Jim Dyet. Another Christian author who had a profound influence on Spc. Harmon is Brian Reaves, who wrote the thriller “Stolen Lives.”

“I hope to become a full-time writer some day and that my book* will be picked up by bigger publishers,” Spc. Harmon said. “Then I’ll be able to meet my goal of using the proceeds to help the needy. That’s what we’re here for, right?”

Spc. Harmon said much of his inspiration comes from observing warriors every day and noting the hardships they endure during deployments. “I have so many ideas that I don’t know what to do with them all,” he said. “My computer is full of book ideas that I have started working on. I hope to finish my next novel during this upcoming deployment.”

Spc. Harmon said he sees some warriors who initially might not believe in God transformed after they deploy to a war zone. “It is human nature to look for something bigger than ourselves to put our trust in,” he said. Last year, when he was deployed to South Korea, he found that many soldiers in his unit just needed someone to listen to them and be there for them. “You can tell it comforts them to know that God cares about them and the hardships that they are going through,” he said.

Spc. Harmon said he is a good friend to everyone and does not judge others if they have different beliefs from his.

“The Thousand Year Voyage” can be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and through Spc. Harmon’s Web site, www.caseyseanharmon.webs.com.

• Kelly Twedell is a writer and Army spouse from Fayetteville, N.C.

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