321st AMOS Spouse channels military experience to create "Maggie the Military Rat"

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Bradlee Seahawer
  • 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron

As she was helping her kids pack for their military move, an offhand play on words - "military brat" to "military rat" - gave Monica Voicu Denniston the inspiration to write a book. It was the start of a journey that culminated in the publication of "Maggie the Military Rat" last year.

"I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember," she said. "As a child growing up in Romania, my favorite activity was illustrating stories while listening to them on the record player. When I turned eight and my family emigrated to the U.S., I routinely maxed out the local library’s borrowing limit because reading picture books was the best way to learn English."

She met her husband, then-cadet Garrett Denniston, now Lt. Col. Denniston, while he was a cadet in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The story follows the titular Maggie as she tries to find a way to serve. It tells a story that not only entertains young readers but also educates them about the military. The story has received acclaim from parents and trade publications for its heart and relatability. Since its release, Denniston has been doing public readings of "Maggie" at libraries in Solano County and attending trade conferences throughout California. She balances this in addition to being a part-time lecturer at University of California, Berkeley and a mom to three kids.

In recognition of The Month of the Military Child, Denniston has spent April donating more than 160 copies of "Maggie the Military Rat" to elementary schools on military bases as a way of recognizing the sacrifices made by military families and the resilience shown by their children.

"I’m excited to give back to our military families and help military kids feel seen, because they serve too,” Denniston said.

Since the 1980s the Defense Department celebrates military children during the month of April. There are more than 1.6 million military children who face many challenges and unique experiences as a result of their parents' service. Military families move on average every two to three years, impacting military children through changing schools and support networks.

Denniston has found a special way to tell a military child’s story and celebrate the families who serve alongside their servicemember.