Soldier Girls: the battles of three women at home and at war
by Helen Thorpe
Wednesday, March 22, 5:00pm Administration Building Fireside Room B, 5:00-7:00
This book follows the lives of three Indiana women deployed by the National Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the effect it had on their lives and families. The Boston Globe calls it, “utterly absorbing, gorgeously written, and unforgettable.”
The next Veterans Book Club meeting is Thursday, January 26th. We will be reading the graphic novel, White Donkey: Terminal Lance.
The White Donkey was written and illustrated by infantry Marine and Iraq veteran Maximilian , creator of the hit comic strip “Terminal Lance.” Uriarte enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2006 at the age of 19 and served for four years. During his first deployment to Iraq in 2007 he served as an MRAP turret gunner and dismount of India Company’s “Jump” platoon in the Zaidon region southeast of Fallujah. He deployed to Iraq again in 2009 as a billeted Combat Photographer and Combat Artist, then enrolled in California College of the Arts. In 2010 Uriarte created the popular comic strip “Terminal Lance” while still on active duty. The strip is now published in The Marine Corps Times and has grown immensely in popularity, with 450,000 Facebook followers and one million unique hits per month.
This book takes Uriarte’s work in a new direction. He goes beyond his lampooning of the Marine experience to provide a raw and compelling glimpse into the modern Corps.
We are so excited that David Chrisinger, the editor of our next book selection will be coming to campus for our next book club meeting at 5pm, October 20th in the Fireside Grill. He was instrumental in publishing See Me For Who I Am, a collection of stories written by student veterans.
We will be focusing on two stories in Fire & Forget:
–Tips for a Smooth Transition, by Siobhan Fallon (chapter 2)
Unlike the other stories in Fire and Forget, the soldier is threatened by something other than war. The author said in an interview, “I want the reader to wonder who is more unhinged by the deployment/marital separation: the guilt-ridden wife or the returning soldier?” Both the soldier and his wife struggle with conflicting expectations of homecoming. Will they maintain their marriage or go their separate ways? We, as readers, are also unsure how this story will end.
How would you characterize Colin, the returning soldier?
What was your reaction when he jumped into a pod of Galapagos sharks during their Hawaiian vacation?
As for Evie, did you want her to succeed in hiding her infidelity from her husband?
Her reaction to being surrounding by sharks was strikingly different. Why?
Do you think this couple will make it?
– Redeployment, by Phil Klay (chapter 3)
In an interview , the author said that, “Leaving the Marine Corps was more disorienting than returning home.” He found difficulty being around civilians after being surrounded by Marines.
How does that compare to your experience, or to the experiences of veterans you know? How did you/they “decompress”?
Through his main character, the author expresses a lot of frustration about civilian apathy. In the story he notes that shopping is how America fights back against the terrorist. How do you think civilian citizens view the war?
The narrator starts the story “we shot dogs” and ends with the shooting of his beloved family pet. Even though he says that “something in me is going to break if I do this,” he does it anyway. Were you surprised by the ending?
Several copies are available at the Schurz Library – call number PS648.W34 F57 2013. We also have a few to give away!
Join the next meeting of the Veterans Book Club on Monday, April 11, 5:30 -7:00 pm in the University Grill, Fireside Room.
We’ll be discussing Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War, edited by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher, with a focus on two stories:
Redeployment by Phil Klay, 2014 National Book Award Winner in Fiction
Tips for a Smooth Transition by Siobhan Fallon (providing a perspective of an army wife)
Schurz Library – PS648.W34 F57 2013
We encourage you to bring family members. Supervised activities for children will available. Free parking and refreshments provided.
Please RSVP to Rhonda Culbertson at email@example.com and mention the ages and any food allergies of children who may attend.
About Fire and Forget:
While the grand, noble causes of the past wars continue to capture our collective imaginations, the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated with greater ambivalence. Fire and Forget, a collection of short stories by authors who are also military veterans (or, in one case, a family member), captures the messiness of soldiering when the mission and endgame are unclear. Though fiction, each work reads true, filled with tension, fear, and anger. Readers are transported to desert checkpoints, ride along with vehicle convoys, and return home from combat to face an uncertain future. –Patty Wetli, Booklist
It was great to have such a wide variety of attendees — student veterans, veteran and non-veteran faculty, deans, and administrators, alumni, and veterans from the community, including Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend and Brian Pawlowski, the mayor’s former Deputy Chief of Staff and now Assistant Executive Director of Community Investment/Director of Business Development. We had a wonderful discussion and are looking forward to our next meeting in April.
One of the strengths of this book is its full spectrum of viewpoints and experiences. Some spoke to their deep sense of pride in serving one’s nation while others voiced deep anti-war sentiment. Feelings of blame, guilt, excitement, friendship, and anguish are all depicted. Of all the many writings, which piece struck an emotional chord with you and why?
In Camp Muckamungus, Staff Sargeant Parker Gyokeres pointed out the many absurdities of day to day life in the desert, exclaiming, “This place truly never ceases to trip me out.” Others, like Lt. Colonel Stephen McAllister’s piece, Force Providers, pointed out the absurdities of military life. What struck you as absurd or comical about your time in service? And, what surprised you the most?
The editor, Andrew Carroll, noted that time and time again he heard contributors lament how little civilians know about the armed forces. Some writings like Corporal Michael Poggi’s Shallow Hands and Sergeant Michael A. Thomas’s 3 AM in Bangor, Maine expressed how difficult it was for their loved ones to fully comprehend what they’ve gone through while overseas. What were your impressions when you first came back home? How different was it for your loved ones? What do you want civilians to know?
Lastly, have you written letters, emails, poems or short stories about your experiences? If so, were they similar to any in the book? Does reading this book inspire you to capture your experiences through writing or the arts?
Join South Bend’s Mayor Peter Buttigieg and Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Pawlowski for the next Veterans Book Club!
Book: Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, edited by Andrew Carroll. This book is a collection of shared stories, letters and experiences that tell the story of America’s military through their eyes.
Copies will be available for checkout at the Franklin D. Schurz Library, call number (DS79.76 .O634 2006) and free copies are on order for key groups and individuals.
** For your convenience, several excerpts from Operation Homecoming are available online under the page, Operation Homecoming listed on the right.
Date: Wednesday, February 10th
Location:IU South Bend – Administration Building, Fireside Rooms near the Campus Grille.
Snacks, hot drinks, and free parking provided
Veterans, current military and reservists, and family members are welcome.
ON MARCH 31 2014, war veteran and novelist Cara Hoffman published an op-ed in The New York Times in which she argued that war narratives — in prose, poetry, and film — have always been, and continue to be, dominated by male voices. The stories of women at war, on the other hand, she said are “nearly absent from our culture.”
Shortly thereafter, Kayla Williams — a former sergeant and Arabic linguist in a Military Intelligence company of the 101st Airborne Division, and author of two memoirs about her experiences as a servicewoman at home and abroad — published an eloquent dissent to Hoffman’s piece on her personal blog. She expanded on her post in this Los Angeles Review of Books article.