In partnership with Warrior Writers, HSP is hosting The Art of Reintegration: Veterans and the Silences of War, an ongoing discussion series designed to empower veterans to share their life experiences in their own words.
“As a veteran who has dealt with the complex feelings of integrating back into society after deployment, I wanted to contribute to something greater than myself with other veteran peers,” explains Will Woldenberg, a veteran and discussion leader for the series.
Each session explores a particular theme surrounding war and veteran experiences. Discussion leaders use historical materials from HSP’s archives to help contextualize the topics that participants address—including the disconnect between veteran and non-veteran communities and the evolution of war propaganda from World War I to the present day.
During the session on the Vietnam War, a veteran who served in the conflict sparked a conversation that bridged his experience returning home with the experiences of Iraq War veterans. “[Our] story had already been written” by media outlets and activists when they returned from overseas, he explained. Soldiers who fought in Iraq echoed his sentiment, sharing that they were also deprived of the ability to express their lives in the military on their terms.
The first year's discussion group also had conversations about the Global War on Terror, suffering, reintegration, and anti-war activism.
“The series has created a forum where difficult questions can be asked without fear of judgement,” says Woldenberg.
The Art of Reintegration is made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. New discussion participants are encouraged to apply by September 8.