Survivor Stories

Leaders of TMF Turn Authors in New Book Release, “The Knock at the Door”

The Story of Three Women, Bonded by Grief and Purpose

TMF is proud to support 3 leaders of our organization--Ryan Manion, Amy Looney, and Heather Kelly--as they share their personal stories of loss, and how each of their journeys took them from the depths of grief and pain to the height of empowerment and inspiration.

The Knock at the Door is their story, one-part jarring memoir and one-part self improvement narrative. This book is meant for any reader who has been challenged to demonstrate resilience in the face of struggle, and has come out stronger on the other side.

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About the Book


What happens when tragedy knocks on your front door? 


For these women, it was a literal knock, with two men standing in crisply pressed uniforms. They had news. News that gutted them to the core -- the death of their loved ones, a brother and two husbands -- in combat zones. The thing about those moments is that it's almost inconceivable that they can happen to you. That is, until they do.


This book is for anyone who has ever received a knock at the door. And if you live long enough and have the courage to love others, you will. Maybe it's a cancer diagnosis. Maybe it's the death of your best friend. The betrayal of a spouse. The loss of a child. The implosion of a professional career. Or any tragedy that takes the person we love the most away from us too soon. Life is not without its challenges for anyone. The key, as this book reminds us, is in how we respond. 


This is the story of three women and their response to tragedy and loss. They're human like the rest of us. Their decision-making has been flawed and their behavior imperfect. But the wisdom they gained in their struggle is authentic. And the hope they offer is inspiring. 


Their personal stories demonstrate that while the knock at the door has the power to change your life, it doesn't need to define it. Their vulnerability and resilience is a powerful reminder of the ways in which grief can change us for the better--if we let it. 

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The Knock at the Door

About the Authors

Ryan Manion

Ryan Manion is the surviving sister of Marine 1stLt. Travis Manion, who was killed in Iraq on April 29, 2007. His death served as the inspiration for establishing Travis Manion Foundation, a nationally recognized veteran service organization. Today Ryan leads the foundation as President, and as a highly regarded advocate for the military community, she addresses national audiences frequently.

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Amy Looney Heffernan

Amy Looney Heffernan is the surviving spouse of LT Brendan Looney, a West Coast-based Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan on September 21, 2010. Brendan was also the best friend and Naval Academy roommate of Travis Manion. Amy has a Masters Degree in Public Administration and serves as the Vice-President of Travis Manion Foundation.

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Heather Kelly

Heather Kelly is the surviving spouse of Marine 1stLt. Robert Kelly, who was killed in Afghanistan on November 9, 2010. Serving as the West Region Program Manager for Travis Manion Foundation, Heather works closely with veterans returning to civilian life, the surviving family members of those who make the ultimate sacrifice, and fostering America's next generation of leaders.

More About Heather


“Grief is relentless, and it spares no one. The question that remains for anyone who has lost a loved one is ‘what now?’ With raw honesty and empathy, these three incredible women teach us to find strength in loss, power in ourselves, and purpose in remembering and honoring our heroes.”

—Meghan McCain, co-host of The View


“THE KNOCK AT THE DOOR is a compelling story that will comfort and reassure those suffering through unspeakable tragedy. Ryan, Heather, and Amy remind us that we do not face life’s challenges alone, and that how we confront adversity is the most important part of the journey.”

—Joseph F. Dunford Jr., 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General, USMC (Ret.)


“With warmth, humor and courage, Ryan, Amy and Heather have delivered a book that has something to teach all of us about discovering purpose in loss. They show us all what it is to be human in the best sense by elevating the communities around us.”

—Rob Riggle, Actor, Comedian, Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret.)

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