Veterans Voices Writing ProjectIn the timeline of world history, November 11, 1918 marked WWI’s “Armistice on the Western Front” when firing ended on “the eleventh hour on the 11th day of the 11th month”. A hundred years later, the connection to our past will be celebrated with this year’s Veterans Day by reflecting on the sacrifices made by those who have died and served our country.

When we take the time to explore the service and sacrifices that our veterans have made, a common thread of pride and honor shapes their stories. Since Woodrow Wilson proclaimed “this is a war to end all wars” regarding the Great War (WWI), over 4 million veterans have served in the 16 military conflicts since that war ended. As such, the need for veterans to heal and share their stories has been a constant theme. An organization that has offered veterans a venue to share their experiences and express themselves is the Veteran Voices Writing Project.

Originally founded in 1946, as the Hospitalized Veterans Writing Project, Veteran Voices Writing Project was an outreach program for wounded veterans returning from World War II. Volunteers, primarily by fellow members of the Chicago North Shore chapter of Theta Sigma Phi (now The Association for Women in Communications), went into VA hospital wards to encourage soldiers and sailors to write their stories, thoughts, and feelings on paper. Writing as therapy was an untried concept of the times, however the founder, Elizabeth Fontaine, and her volunteers quickly gained the confidence of the Veterans Administration which encouraged HVWP to participate in hospitals throughout the country.

A national writing contest was also used as a catalyst to encourage participation in the program. The contest judges included the likes of: Eleanor Roosevelt, Fannie Hurst, Dr. Karl Menninger, Langston Hughes, Pearl Buck, Bennett Cert, Ogden Nash, John Ciardi, Phyllis Whitney, Thornton Wilder, and Catherine Bowen. Many of the veterans who participated in Hospitalized Veterans Writing Project actually served in both WWI and WWII. The supporting Veterans’ Voices magazine was then established in 1952 to offer a place for veterans to publish their work. For many of the participants, the Veterans Voices Writing project was life-changing, as writing offered a recreational outlet and was a therapeutic tool to help with the anguishes of war.

Today, Veterans Voices Writing Project is still changing lives by publishing veteran stories and experiences and distributing the magazine throughout the country to individuals, VA Centers, libraries, veterans’ and auxiliary organizations and others who support the program.

The ethos of the Grantham staff is to change lives, so helping Veterans’ Voices and all that it represents is a natural affiliation that we support. Offering support through the Grantham Gives Back Grant and sponsoring the Veteran Pen Celebration, Grantham has been able to offer some assistance in the publication of the Veterans Voices magazine. Faculty members, Michael Turner, Theresa Turk, Dane Howard, and Archuleta Chisholm lend their skills in editing the prose and poetry submissions and prepping them for publication. As instructors who have taught countless veterans in their classes at Grantham, they see enormous value in writing as a therapeutic tool to process the traumas of combat.

As we embark on another Veterans Day, let us remember that the decision of those who serve may carry an unseen burden, but it is one filled with pride, honor, and sacrifice.

Grantham University is a veteran founded university with the intent to transform the lives of transitioning military service members through education. Grantham is proud to specialize in online learning for those affiliated with the military (active-duty service members, veterans, military spouses and dependents). As part of our support for the military Grantham offers the Grantham University Veterans Voices Writing Group with a mission to facilitate the sharing of experiences through written expression for our military veterans or active service students.

Learn more about how you can contribute to the Veterans Voices Writing Project and the Grantham University Veterans by contacting Rich Wrobel at rwrobel@grantham.edu or visit www.veteransvoices.org.

Veterans Voices Writing Project

Rich Wrobel – Assistant Professor – Mark Skousen School of Business / VVWP Executive Board Member – Writing Program Liaison and Editorial Advisor.

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