As the daughter of two veterans and the sister of someone enlisted in the Navy, I can say that the military shapes people in ways that ordinary people can’t quite comprehend. It becomes a part of your identity as much as brown hair or blue eyes. Whether a person walks out of the military relatively unscathed or plagued by PTSD, it shows up in life in often unexpected ways. The divide between citizens and veterans is rather large, and solutions to this need to be found in order to make the lives of veterans better.
The city of Madison, Wisconsin has a beautiful answer. They have started what they call the Warrior Book Club. Citizens and veterans are encouraged to join, with the understanding that they will be talking about books involving combat and war time. Reasons for joining vary: maybe a reader wants to expand his reading list, or maybe a veteran wants to remember his roots. The reasons for joining don’t matter as much as the result: a discussion that brings people closer together, and promotes understanding.
One member, Mitchell Ott, said the experience has been particularly eye-opening. He uses PTSD as an example: “I didn’t understand the full mental thing they go through – that their brain is changed, that they’re chemically and physically changed.”
The Wisconsin Veteran Museum launched the club officially in September, and they have covered an array of classics, including Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and a modern translation of Sophocles’s Ajax, now called All That You’ve Seen Here Is God, written by Bryan Doerries. The books are provided for free to encourage members to join.
What do you think of using books to bring veterans and citizens together?
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Featured image via Berks County Hall Of Heroes