Photo by Tim Byrne

Program

Veterans Program

Book groups and related programs for Veterans.

Contact

Jan Bindas-Tenney
Program Officer
(207) 773-5051

Details

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

MHC HQ-46

Photo by Dan D’Ippolito

Talking about ideas that touch us is really difficult— and vitally important. Our ideas develop when we are called upon to share them, to bounce them around, and to encounter new ones, and that’s what happens when people with shared experiences meet to talk to each other, to listen to each other, to ponder and reflect together on something they’ve all just read. In Veterans Book Group, this foundation is especially important— participants have told us time and again that, when done right, this book group provides a space to connect with other Veterans that is not purely social and not clinical.

Each Veterans Book Group is developed in conjunction with a Veteran co-facilitator and is comprised of texts—poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, novels, and other media, both ancient and modern—that explore a variety of perspectives. Veterans get together around a table to talk about what they’re reading. The facilitators add depth and breadth to the conversation, meeting participants where they are, leaving space for different and sometimes difficult perspectives, creating a good atmosphere for discussion, and making sure everyone feels free to share their ideas and questions with one another. Groups meet weekly, 5-8 times.

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

Testimonial

  • “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.”

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  • “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.”

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  • "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.'"

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  • "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."

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  • "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."

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  • "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."

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  • "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)."

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  • "[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."

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  • "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)."

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  • "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."

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Funded by:

The Welch Charitable Fund at the Maine Community Foundation

 

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