Interview of Demetris T Bryant, author of Holding On and Not Giving Up On Self by Erin Britton
1. The love you have for military life, in general, is clear from reading Holding On and Not Giving Up On Self, but could you pick out any particular highlights from your Army career?
Yes, being introduced to the Army Core Values of leadership, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. These values serve as my moral compass of doing right when no one is watching. These values guide my everyday actions.
2. Thinking of your postings in both the United States and abroad, did you have a favorite location? If so, why?
During my military duty assignments, the assignment I enjoyed the most was being assigned in Germany. Over the course of 9.5 years throughout my 21-year military career, I was able to visit places most people dream about like: Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Turkey, and the list goes on.
3. Aside from communications, is there any other area that you would have liked to work in?
Yes, teaching our young people about life’s lesson of failure and not giving up while striving for excellence.
4. Are you still in touch with many colleagues or soldiers you commanded? If so, what do they think about the book?
I am not in contact with the soldiers I commanded, but I am still in contact with a few friends I developed friendships with in the 80s. Those friends have read the book and have provided favorable comments while telling me that they always knew, I was going to make it big someday. They seem to think that I have made it:-).
5. Your description of the requirements of airborne school is particularly affecting. Making the first parachute jump must have been nerve-wracking. How did it feel to complete the course? Have you attempted skydiving/parachuting again since?
Attending airborne school was the most demanding, and physical thing I have ever done. My first jump was exhilarating and unforgettable. Flying in the sky like a bird was amazing, and nerve-racking as the ground was approaching fast. The pain endured throughout the course is seared in my mind like it was yesterday. Completing airborne school was one of the most challenging and proudest moments in my life especially after doubting if I could graduate successfully from such a hard course. No, I have not attempted to jump out of an airplane since airborne school. I would like to think that I have come to my senses:-).
6. What was the transition from military life to civilian life like? Did it prove difficult for you and your family?
My transition from military service was quite smooth considering it was my military experience which opened the door to opportunity in government service as a civilian. My military training thoroughly prepared me for that next chapter in my life. Upon leaving military service family time tremendously improved, and that is something that my family truly enjoyed.
7. What inspired you to write Holding On and Not Giving Up On Self and what are your hopes for the book?
I used to spend a lot of time in my children’s schools after leaving military service. I even become the parent lead at my children’s school. Over the years, I developed relationships with school administrators, teachers, parents, and students. Because of all the time I spent with the students I felt a need to do more to help our young people navigate their lives. I pray about it and God placed the thought of writing a book on my mind. After speaking to a published author about my story of wanting to help our youth our discussion, led me to write my first book.
8. Toward the end of the book, you share the stories of two family members whose troubles with the law have altered the course of their lives. How is your nephew Dominick doing now? What does he think about the book?
It has been 18 years since my nephew left the federal prison system and he has managed to avoid trouble ever since. He struggled big time for the first 8 years to secure decent employment. I am happy to report today that my nephew has a good job with a reputable company, and recently he purchased his first brand-new car. I am so very proud of him!
9. And what about your cousin Smooth? Serving a life sentence means that his situation appears particularly bleak. How is he getting on? What impact has participating in the book had on him?
I was able to have my publisher mail a copy of the book to my cousin Smooth, and it turned out to be a big hit within the prison system. I even received a nice letter from my cousin and another prison inmate. It was a special letter that reiterated how my book gave them tremendous hope. The letter went on to encourage young people to focus on being law-abiding citizens. During a speaking engagement of mine at a church in Washington, DC many years ago, I had the opportunity to read the letter to a group of young people, which was amazing. Unfortunately, I lost touch with my cousin about four years ago.
10. What’s next for you? Could you see yourself writing another book, perhaps with a focus on post-military life?
I have started my podcast on Spotify and Anchor based on my book, Holding On and Not Giving Up On Self. My podcast, Dee Bryant Inspired is focused on motivating and inspiring young people towards military service. I am also interested in motivational talks and traveling around the country, and perhaps the world to help transform the hearts and minds of our young people. Yes, I am looking forward to writing more books someday.