A discussion series that brings together veterans and civilians to engage in dialogue about the realities of military service and life will have two events on the Texas A&M campus.
The Veterans’ Voices program, sponsored by Humanities Texas, “offers participants the opportunity to better understand their individual and shared experiences by engaging with the humanities in a collaborative setting,” according to its website.
Veterans’ Voices will be held in room 311 of the Glasscock Building on the A&M campus Friday from 4-6 p.m. and April 18 from 4-6 p.m.
Melissa Huber, director of exhibitions and public programs at Humanities Texas, said Wednesday that the free events bring together a different mix of people each time. Participants read a chosen text together before discussion leaders help move groups through conversations.
Huber said that no preparation or prior knowledge of the material is needed for participation. Humanities Texas has held Veterans’ Voices events in a handful of Texas cities so far, including College Station, she said.
Huber and Veterans’ Voices discussion leader Mike Morris said that the selected texts, which are read aloud before discussion, range from ancient texts such as Homer’s The Odyssey to contemporary voices and first-person accounts, poems or other reflections. Morris described the responses from participants as insightful.
“Every session is unique as the stories and the people change,” Morris said, “but the process always engages important ideas like honor, sacrifice, reunion and memory.”
“Part of the experience is recognizing common experiences through time,” Huber said.
Huber said that Humanities Texas has partnered locally with the Veteran Resource and Support Center at Texas A&M to host the series. Center assistant director Donald Freeman said he got involved with Veterans’ Voices in April 2018.
“Once we had a chance to learn more about the program, we not only wanted to help promote it, but wanted to play a larger role and be part of the experience,” Freeman said via email on Wednesday.
“We are reaching out and supporting veterans, military families and members of the community, not just students,” he wrote.
Freeman said the events have a diverse audience, and he praised the “emotion and passion” exuded by the series’ discussion leaders.
“What I believe the attendees get out of participating is that they realize they’re not alone. Individuals are provided an opportunity and the perfect platform to share their experiences and grow close to others,” Freeman said.
Morris expressed a similar sentiment.
“It’s a great initiative that brings together veterans, families of veterans and those from the community who have no military affiliation,” he said. “Participants leave with a broader and deeper perspective of how their own experience, in or out of the armed forces, fits in with timeless narratives of our common humanity.”