Photo by Tim Byrne


Veterans Program

Book groups and related programs for Veterans.


Leah Kuehn
Program Officer
(207) 773-5051


Veterans Book Group

Connecting through shared experiences

“Homer’s Odyssey offers a map for Soldiers coming home. A reading group provides the opportunity for Veterans to read the map.” -- Program participant


Photo by Dan D’Ippolito

We are offering several book groups to all Maine Veterans / Former Service Members this spring. Groups may focus on one longer text, like the Odyssey, or instead read selected short stories, novels, memoirs, historical texts, essays, or poems related to the experience of military service.


A Reading and Discussion Group for Veterans/Former Service Members of All Eras. Readings will include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from a variety of eras and perspectives.

  • April 2 – May 7 | Mondays 6:00-7:30 PM
  • Facilitated by Melinda Plastas, Bates College
    Kyle Elsea U.S. Army and Nancy Laffin, U.S. Army
  • Registration is free | Call Erik Noll: 783-0068


A Reading and Discussion Group for Combat Veterans. Readings will include The Road Back by Erich Maria Remarque and Tribe: on Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger.

  • March 29 – May 24 | Thursdays 6:00 to 8:00 pm
  • Facilitated by Jeannine Uzzi, Ph.D., University of Southern Maine and Cliff Trott, U.S. Army.
  • Registration is free | Call Cliff Trott: 780-3584


Preceding the presentation by the author, all Veterans are invited to join a free, facilitated book discussion of Fearful Odds: A Memoir of Vietnam and its Aftermath by Charles W. Newhall. Copies of the book and supper will be available at each discussion. 

  • Discussion dates: May 16 and May 23, 5:30 PM | Book talk: May 26, 11:00 AM
  • Location:  Knox Museum: 30 High Street, Thomaston, ME
  • Facilitated by: Matt Hansbury, U.S. Coast Guard, OIF and Kate Ver Ploeg, University of Maine at Augusta.
  • Registration is free | Call Matt Hansbury: 354-0885


To stay informed about upcoming Veterans Book Groups, join our VBG Mailing List.


  • “I heard about this group and I thought, ‘Coming Home, what a concept.’ I’m older, I’m tired, and I’m ready to get on with the rest of my life… [The Odyssey] was telling a story to us from 3,000 years ago and yet we were telling the same story to each other… It felt good to be part of something the society we live in doesn’t really offer, especially to veterans. We tend to be apart from what goes on.”


  • “I don’t get out much. In fact, I rarely leave my home. This has been good for me–to meet other Vets and think about some things I haven’t wanted to think much about, maybe it’s time to now…I like that it is a book group. I can think about these things that the readings bring up but can talk about the book, not my personal story.”


  • "Being a Veteran is much like being in a fraternity, these discussions work best as 'members only.' It seems easier to talk when you know people around you 'get it.'"


  • "It was good to be able to share my experiences with other fellow Veterans and not be judged or criticized for how I feel or think."


  • "It allowed Veterans who normally spend a lot of time alone to actually come to the group and talk about their experiences when they normally wouldn't in a forum."


  • "It's a good place to connect, through reading and discussion, with other veterans and their experiences. Helping us to process and deal with our own."


  • "Remember, it is HARD to acclimate back into the civilian world when you have lived a military life 24/7 for a number of years. So much of America's contemporary culture is meaningless to a veteran...we were trained to lose our self and replace it with our unit; our mentality is different now and we cannot go back easily (some never do)."


  • "[The] readings are from all perspectives and as a person you might be surprised that some issues that are present today aren't all that different from past conflicts. This point of view helps widen the spectrum of understanding and helps break the tunnel vision of isolation."


  • "For forty years I have been looking for words to describe my experience and I finally found them right here in this ancient book (The Odyssey)."


  • "If there had been a project like this both before we deployed and certainly after returning home, I would not have had the problems I had."


Spring Veterans Book Groups are offered in partnership with

images    10424347_581181155316320_843158669767759554_n  VI Master     Portland Vet Center logo     henryknox-logo-dot-400-blue

Funded by:

The Welch Charitable Fund at the Maine Community Foundation


NEH Logo MASTER_082010

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.