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VINE VOICEon September 17, 2010
I wish that my schedule had allowed me to be in Pasco, Washington tomorrow for the formal launch of "Hope Unseen - The Story of the U.S. Army's First Blind Active-Duty Officer."

I first learned about Scotty Smiley and his remarkable story when our mutual friend, Dr. Scott Snook of Harvard Business School, shared Scotty's story as part of Dr. Snook's presentation at the initial White Rhino Intersection event. I was so moved by the story, that I invited Scotty, his wife Tiffany, and his co-author, Doug Crandall, to speak at the follow-up event, Intersection 2.0. Their collective sharing of leadership lessons learned through their struggles were deeply inspiring to the attendees

I have read "Hope Unseen" and am already passing along copies to family members and friends. With the help of Doug Crandall, Captain Scotty Smiley pulls no punches in describing the highs and lows of the road that he and Tiffany have traveled since an IED explosion in Iraq robbed him of his eyes and his dreams of a future as a warrior. His strong faith was shaken to its core as he came to grips with the physical insult that had been dealt him, and the uncertain prospects for his future abilities to care for himself and his family.

One of the most poignant moments for me in reading this book came when I read the caption to the last photo in the book of Scotty and Tiffany and their two children. "People tell me that my children are beautiful. Unfortunately, I just can't picture them - but I am thankful for all the life God has blessed me with." For me, that statement sums up the value of this book and its lessons. It is a compelling compilation of stories of success, followed by disaster, failure, frustration, setbacks, revised plans, faith shaken and rebuilt, family and friends standing in the gap, and resurgence of hope over despair.

The Smiley story includes vignettes from Scotty's time at West Point as a cadet, Ranger training, deployment to Iraq, multiple hospitalizations and rehab, blindly climbing Mount Rainier, surfing in Hawaii, standing before a company of soldiers as their sightless commanding officer, teaching cadets at the United States Military Academy, and inspiring the U.S. Olympic Basketball team before the Beijing Olympics.

Scotty Smiley has been named the Army's Soldier of the Year. His story continues to inspire - soldier and civilian, sighted and blind. My friend, Major General (Retired) Gale Pollock, is former acting Surgeon General of the Army. I have heard her recount an interaction she had with a solider at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. the soldier, in despair over his blindness, was not responding to treatment or attempts at rehabilitation. In an attempt to light a fire under this soldier, General Pollock used tough love. At the end of her harangue, she told the young soldier; "I am going to have Scotty Smiley stop by and see you and let you know what things are possible for you."

Scotty and Tiffany and their cadre of family and friends show all of us what is possible in the wake of tragedy and disappointment. Scotty's faith sustains him, but it is not a blind faith. It is a faith that as been tested in the crucible of suffering and doubt and discouragement, and has emerged refined and strengthened.

I am thankful that my blind friend, Scotty Smiley, has teamed up with my friend, Doug Crandall to tell a story that helps us to all see life more clearly and in sharper focus.

The book is now available for purchase. It will be one of the best investments you can make for yourself and for those on whom you choose to bestow this book as a precious gift.

Al
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on September 9, 2010
This book will truly move and inspire you beyond what you may expect. Scotty Smiley was an amazing "sighted" man...but continues to live out the promise that sight does not make the man! God has a purpose and plan for our life even if circumstances rage out of control and threaten to destroy any hope we have.

Scotty is the first blind active-duty army officer and was blinded by a suicide bomber in Iraq. He is an amazing man and this is a must read...my children are reading it...I am reading it and I can promise..the story will remain with you.
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on September 29, 2010
I pre-ordered this book at the recommendation of my Military Science teacher, who was CPT Smiley's platoon sergeant at the time of the VBIED attack that took his eyesight. I received it on a day where I was going to be on a plane for 5 hours, after going an entire night with no sleep finishing homework. I opened the book in the airport with no intention of actually reading it, because I had every intention of sleeping on the plane.

I finished the book in 4 hours.

Maybe I have a slightly biased opinion of the book- I have been privileged enough to personally meet CPT Smiley and hear him talk about his experiences, as well as being present at his book signing a few days after I finished it. But regardless, the story is touching, honest, and heart wrenching. I cried on the plane twice, both times having the person next to me choked up describing the book and the parts of it. I also caught myself laughing and smiling to myself, rejoicing where the author rejoiced.

I have truly never read a better book. CPT Smiley's story of the return of his faith, as well as the amazing faith of his wife, is unparalleled. I have recommended this book to EVERYONE I have talked to. You will not be able to put the book down once you start it.
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on September 13, 2010
This book is great! It is written in a way that I couldn't put it down. Each chapter made me want to read on and see what happened next in Scotty's life. Although the story is sad, it gave me incredible hope. I will read this book whenever I feel like life is challenging me. Scotty is amazing and Doug Crandall is an exceptionally talented writer.
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on September 20, 2010
I first heard about Scott Smiley when watching NBA Today while working out one lunchtime. His talk with the 2006 US World Championships basketball team was brought tears to many eyes. Later, when I found that my former Cadet Basic Training squad leader Doug Crandall was co-writing a book with Scotty, I was hooked and have been eagerly anticipating the launch for over a year. The book definitely doesn't disappoint. Scotty pulls no punches on his feelings of isolation and hopelessness but also shows that God has much more in store for him than he can imagine. When I feel down in the dumps, I try to remember Scotty and that I need to get over my minor problems. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
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on September 25, 2010
This book is by far one of the most endearing, love story and inspirational books I have read in a long time. This book gives you Hope and trust in God and reality of His control over the minute details of one's spirit led life. I finished the book in 2 days and am a slow reader. It is one that needs a sequel to find out how he is doing in his leadership role at West Point.
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on September 19, 2010
This book, which tells the story of a West Point graduate who was blinded in Iraq yet returned to active duty and to an active life (surfing, mountain climbing, skiing), is inspirational on its own. It works as an affirmation of "ad astra per aspera" (achieving in the face of adversity) but it has the potential to be so much more.

For those who believe in benevolent and omnipotent God, it is an especially moving reminder of God's transcendent love and of the passage from Proverbs that exhorts us to "trust in the Lord with all thine heart and learn not to thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." More than any other book I have read recently, certainly more than any war memoir I've ever read, Scotty Smiley's story is living proof of God's intervention in our lives, not only in the author's life but that of his friends and, especially, of his wife. If only we all could have Captain Smiley's faith and fortitude! I can't thank Scotty Smiley enough for sharing his story....

Read this book to be inspired, to deepen your faith, or to help you find your way back to faith. It is moving so on many different levels.
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on September 19, 2010
As a cadet at West Point, I have had the honor of listening to CPT Smiley speak to my class, and he never fails to amaze. Sitting in that auditorium unaware of what was about to happen, most of us were already beginning to fight sleep. But from the moment he was introduced, to the Q&A session where we realized that it was pointless to raise our hands, we were hooked. This book captures his story so vivdly, reading it was almost like sitting in the classroom with him again. His story is a constant source of motivation for me and countless others, and I feel blessed to have him here at West Point. If you're on the fence about buying/reading this book, take a dive, you'll be glad that you did. And in the offhand chance that CPT Smiley actually reads this: God bless you!
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on September 20, 2010
Sometimes you happen upon a story that simply blows your mind, and the story of Scotty Smiley is one of those! What an exceptional man, truly one of our nation's heroes. Scotty's story will inspire you and challenge your own thinking about any difficulty you are currently facing. The fact that he took his personal trajedy and chose to LIVE and live FULLY is one that everyone needs to hear. The book is candid, funny, emotional and gripping. I feel ashamed to have been so nonchalant about my reaction to news stories coming from the Middle East about our service people serving over there. What a selfless act he and so many others have done on our behalf. Thank you Scotty for sharing your story! You have impacted this life forever!
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on September 9, 2010
I bought this book to learn a little more about a man and a woman who will hesitate to draw attention to themselves and see themselves as an average couple who simply live their lives for God. I am amazed to read about the strength that they both demonstrated and how their strength seems to rub off on everyone who has the luck to encounter them. A truly inspiring story about making the absolute most out of the hand that life deals you while also remembering to help show others how they can too. This is an amazing book, it arrived tonight and I am 2 chapters in and looking forward to a flight this weekend so I can finish it off before passing it on for others to read! Scotty and Tiffany have shared a very special part of themselves and their journey in this book. They demonstrate how the events that test us to the core can give us what we need to help others find their way. Thank you to Doug for managing this project and getting this story out! I think this would be a great book for anyone from a young teen to any adult who needs to be inspired and reminded of where to find your inner strength and push yourself.
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