Alexandria knox's Reviews > Hope Unseen: The Story of the U.S. Army's First Blind Active-Duty Officer

Hope Unseen by Scotty Smiley
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Mar 12, 11

Recommended to Alexandria by: military professional reading list
Recommended for: all Enlisted, NCOs, Comissioned, and civilians
Read on March 12, 2011, read count: 1

A Hope Unseen, Inspiration from an Army Captain and What His Words on Leadership and Life Have Taught Me
It is devotion to duty and selfless service that makes America the nation it is today. This is my review of Hope Unseen by Captain Scotty Smiley. This book is amazing. It is one of the recommended books on the Military Professional reading list. Captain Smiley is an Active Duty Army Officer who lost his sight in Iraq. His book touched me so much because I was born totally blind myself, and my family has a long tradition of military service. My father is currently deployed with the New Hampshire Army National Guard, and my grandfather was an Air Force Major. I am twenty five years old, and grew up longing to serve my country just like my dad and my granddad. I would listen to military documentaries and yearn to do what they did, just attend basic and go off to combat. It was not until a few years ago that I found a way to serve my country. I am a trumpet player, and while attending university in Minnesota, I was looking around for a bugle corps to join since I had been trouing with various corps over the years and wanted to get back involved with the activity. I ended up finding an organization that plays Taps for Veterans' funerals and other honors. I joined, and from there it was life changing. I earned a spot in the West Fargo VFW honor guard and performed with them for two years. During that time I also found the Auxiliary component of the military while searching on the internet using a screen reader that reads what is presented on the screen to me. I joined the Air Force Auxiliary also known as the Civil Air Patrol and am now a 1LT working my way to Captain. A few years later I found out about the Coast Guard Auxiliary. I joined the USCG Aux as well and am now currently serving in both auxiliaries training in radio operations for both. I am still continuously coming up with new ways to serve any way I can. I am living in MN, but will be moving to GA for more opportunities to serve and help the AF and CG.
Captain Smiley is such an inspiration to me because he went on to climb Mount Rainier and earn his MBA even while totally blind. He goes through some of the things I go through, but he just keeps going. He says he despises his "childlike dependence on others at times, especially in certain situations, as I do at times as well." I wish I could meet him so much. I totally related to his situation when he had to use the bathroom when him and his group where camped out on the mountain but he didn't want to wake anyone up, so he peed in the snow behind the tent. I was not required to write this review, I just thought it was important for others to know about this book. It is so inspiring. I think he struggled even more because he had his sight before, and he said he wouldn't have climbed the mountain if it were not for Camp Patriot.
I could feel his pain when he had to climb that mountain. He kept longing to give up because, "Everyone else had the motivation of the view and how beautiful it was." It was like when I needed to go on that trip that I wona few weeks ago, there was a bigger purpose to it than just the view or what could be seen by those with sight. I won a trip to New York City with the support of my outstanding mother and grandmother, and without them it would not have been possible. I can not anounce why I went at this time, but will be able to in May. I got the chance to attend a concert at Carnagie Hall which was my life long dream and go to the World Trade Center Museum. I also got to serve my country in a major way during that time, and it was truly life changing.
Captain Smiley kept going though pushing through his emotions, and even surfed in Hawaii, sky dived, and skied. It was extremely difficult for Captain Smiley after his time at Walter Reed Medical Center, because he had to attend a school for blind veterans, and he would get so angry with himself because he hated being blind and the way he was treated, as if he were mentally disabled. I could also relate so much when he got lost in the VA parking lot for an hour and just started crying, because he had faced IEDs and bullets, but he couldn't find his way to the door. He felt so hopeless and ashamed. Captain Smiley was named the 2007 Army Times soldier of the year. He did not want this award at all because he felt that there were more deserving service members that were currently in combat. Sort of like I felt about the award I recently won. He had so many mixed emotions about it. He felt that others had much bigger problems than he did. He considered himself blessed to be blind and alive. He said something that I can relate to what I won, it is not about him, but about our country and honoring all of our heroes. He felt the same way about his award that I did, but he turned it around for a positive impact for our country. Throughout the book, Captain Smiley writes of how he led his men in Iraq and of the long deployments he endured. Captain Smiley lost his sight to a car bomb while in combat in Iraq. The bomber was a terrorist that was a suicide bomber part of Ben laiden’s forces. His book is so interesting, because he writes so that the reader is drawn into the moments of his life.
It is amazing how he is still alive. Throughout the book, he remembers his time at West Point and Ranger School.
The Ranger Creed

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and "esprit de corps" of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be. One-hundred- percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well- trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.
I like how Captain Smiley always wanted and still wants to live his spiritual and military corps values no matter what happened to him. I feel a lot of the feelings Captain Smiley feels like questioning why he's blind or why he is unable do certain things. His doctors fought so hard for him to see like mine had when I was a little baby, but like me, he just wasn’t meant to see. He was meant to do great things like I am. His wife felt at times though that people wanted him to fail and just be a “blind guy.” I have felt that several times in my life, especially when I was first starting out trying to find a way to serve my country and breaking new ground in the USCG Aux and USAF Aux. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be told you are totally blind when you had sight your entire life and were an Army officer. He never let what people thought of him get in the way of what he wanted to do though, and he knew he wanted to stay in the Army, while so many others would have jumped at the chance to get out. He fought through graduate school even while facing people doubting his ability. He was also a great father. He was given the Purple Heart for his wounds and sacrifices. “It is those hardships we go through that make us stronger.” Captain Smiley
He had to fight so hard to continue to serve on Active Duty. If he can fight for how he wants to serve his country, then there is no reason that I can’t fight for what I want to do for my country. He had to prove to everyone that even though he was blind, he was still fit to serve. He became a public speaker and spoke on his experience in the Army to new recruits and other military members. He also taught at West Point on leadership and still continues his Army career to this day. He was so inspiring and wanted and still wants to serve so much. He is taking his disability and making it a pathway of service to country. He followed the path and so many more doors opened for him. I think it is like the trip I took a few weeks ago. I did not know what impact it will have on my life, but I know that everything is meant for a reason, and in May I will serve my country in a unique way just from going on that trip that I cannot announce until then. I have never had a professional reading book touch me so much as this one did. He had a lot of the thoughts that I sometimes do like whether his service is real or if he is helping others, but he just keeps going and the more he keeps carrying on, the more he inspires so many around him, just like I am doing. No matter what his disability and that he is totally blind, he is still proud to be a soldier and proud to wear the uniform of the United States of America. “Life goes on and we can still triumph in the midst of adversity. A selfish person doesn’t become a selfless leader.” I will never forget this book and how much this dedicated Captain has taught me, just by what I read. I hope to meet him some day. As I prepare for a new auxiliary duty station in a new city, I will be confident, and press on no matter what obstacles I face, just as Captain Smiley still does today. Thank you sir for your motivating and inspiring determination, hooah and forever Army Strong! You are a true image of selfless service, leadership, courage, integrity, and all military corps values.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Hope Unseen.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.