Pictures from 2nd Book Club meeting

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.

Discussion topics – Operation Homecoming

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?​

February Meeting scheduled

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

Time:  5:30-7:00 pm

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.

Women Writing War

Female soldier

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.

Do you agree with Cara or Kayla?