Veterans Reading Group - Chapel Hill Public Library

Veterans Reading Group - Chapel Hill Public Library

**If you are looking for the page for the 2016 NC Vets For Words discussion group please click here.

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NC Vets For Words 2015 is a part of the Veterans Book Group program offered by the North Carolina Humanities Council in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council and eleven other state humanities councils across the country. The program has received major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities' Standing Together initiative, created to promote understanding of the military experience and to support returning Veterans. 

We are a small group of interested combat veterans who get together once a month at the Chapel Hill library to talk with each other about a relatively short (10 - 30 page) selection of readings broadly related to war and homecoming. The conversations will be shaped and determined by the participants, but will be facilitated by: 

  • John Howell, a ten year veteran of the NC National Guard who deployed to Iraq as a combat medic in 2009-2010
  • Dr. Hilary Lithgow, an English professor at UNC Chapel Hill whose research and teaching focus on the literature of war
  • We will also be supported by Theresa Yuschok MD, a psychiatrist at the Durham VA.  

The group is not a class or a therapy session (participants will not be pressed to discuss their own service experience).  Instead, the focus will be on reading and discussion of texts, as well as relevant thoughts or experiences that participants may want to share. Our goal is to provide a veteran-centered setting and context for veterans to connect with one another, build relationships, share their experiences and reflect upon issues of particular interest and concern to them. We hope that the readings will provide a productive basis for the group's conversations, and allow veterans to make connections between their own experiences and those of other people.

The reading list features writings by authors who are veterans of conflicts ranging from the Civil War to Iraq and Afghanistan, including Ernest Hemingway, Karl Mirlantes, Mariette Kalinowski, Brian Turner and Phil Klay. Although the readings will focus on topics that are relevant to veterans, discussion won't focus solely on combat experiences, and we will make connections between the literature of war and a broad range of human experience.  

This program is free, and availability is first come, first served.  People interested in joining the group should call us at (828) 610-8387 (828 610 vets) or email us at vetsforwords@gmail.com 

Readings and Topics: 

Please note:  readings will be provided in advance and free of cost to all participants.

February 18 Coming Home / Communicating with Civilians

Readings:  Phil Klay "After War: A Failure of Imagination"(2014); Ernest Hemingway "Soldier's Home"(1925); R.H. Tawney “Some Reflections of a Soldier”(1916); Alfred, Lord Tennyson “Ulysses,” 1833

March 18 Double Vision / Flashbacks

**Please note: The Whitman poems are famous and very relevant to the other readings for this month, but they also describe wounded men in graphic detail. Please feel free to skip these poems if you prefer to do so.

**Session will begin at 6:00 pm

Readings:   Mariette Kalinowski "The Train"(2014); Brian Turner "At Lowe's Home Improvement Center"(2010); Walt Whitman "Old War Dreams" (1865); "The Dresser" (1865); and David Morris "The Evil Hours" (2015)

April 15 Combat Experience from the Civil War to Today

Readings:  excerpt from Richard Moe's Last Full Measure (on the Civil War); excerpt from E.B. Sledge's With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa (WW2); Tim O'Brien "Ambush" (Vietnam); excerpt from David Maraniss's They Marched into Sunlight (Vietnam); excerpt from David Finkel's The Good Soldiers (on Iraq in 2007)

May 6    The Impact of Combat Experience

Readings:  Karl Mirlantes -- first chapter of What It's Like to Go To War (2011); Ross Boyce, "The Forever War" (2014); excerpt from Richard Moe's Last Full Measure (on the Civil War); excerpt from E.B. Sledge's With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa (WW2); Tim O’Brien "Ambush" (Vietnam); excerpt from David Maraniss’s They Marched into Sunlight (Vietnam); excerpt from David Finkel's The Good Soldiers (on Iraq in 2007)

June date TBD Reintegration/Family Life

Readings:  Jesse Goolsby "Touch"(2010); Siobhan Fallon "Tips for a Smooth Transition"(2014); Ernest Hemingway "Big Two- Hearted River"(1925); Phil Klay, "Redeployment"