Syracuse Veteran’s Writing Group
[music] So my favorite picture is an Air Force
officers stepping off a plane at Andrews to a family that was supposed to be
behind behind a corded barrier. They just break through that, and the photographer
just caught it exactly with their glee at the returning husband and father.
The Syracuse veterans writing group is a group of veterans and military family
members who write nonfiction. So we gather every month in the Writing Center
on the Syracuse University campus to compose original work. The goal is to
have the veterans and military family members write about their experiences
serving in the military, or having a loved one serve in the military, going to
war, coming home, reintegrating into society — whatever stories that veterans
and military family members want to tell. Our group consists of a wide variety of
people from different generations branches of the service. We’re both men
and women we span all identity categories and experiences of the
military.>>I served first during the Vietnam era, and I served at Suffolk
County Air Force Base Long Island New York. It wasn’t until I fully retired from
all employment that I gave myself permission to write because I want to
document my history for my family. I found that coming to these meetings, it
didn’t take me long to feel inspired to start documenting some of my stories.
Mainly how we get people in the door and facing the blank page is just to say you
can come and listen. We give writing prompts at the beginning of
every meeting so we have little writing assignments people get about 20 minutes
on site to write. They can write at home if they want and we aren’t going to
correct their grammar, and if they do want to publish we’ll work on editing.
We’ll make their pieces and help them make their pieces coherent to all the
audiences they want to reach, but we also just value the process of being together
and being able to articulate stories.>>Black iridescent in the Sun – she sits on
the line outside my window. Sometimes with onyx friends. Sometimes alone. I actually started writing about this two years
before I joined the group and I took a non-fiction writing class and didn’t plan on writing about my Coast Guard experience but it came up in that class.
And I didn’t really know what to do with it. And and here you have people who have
shared that experience. “Ah! An English Major!” the recruter said. [laughter] glancing up from my resume. you could go into our language pool. They’ll send you to our Defense Language Institute. It lets you write and
express without without pressure, without fear, without threat. It’s a place
where you can work without being threatened. Sometimes that’s hard to find. The response we want to provoke is
people owning the costs and consequences of war. People owning the way in which
the United States deploys its military and also just the personal stories that
every armed member of the Armed Forces has specific stories and experiences. We
want them to really feel that each story is unique and individual and yet tied to
this collective experience around this label “veteran”.