RUTLAND — On Sunday, November 3, in Colchester, Rutland, and St. Johnsbury, veterans are invited to speak, unscripted, about what their service means to them.
Rutland Free Library, 10 Court Street, Rutland
Catamount Arts, 115 Eastern Ave, St. Johnsbury
McCarthy Arts Center, Saint Michael’s College, Colchester
All community members are encouraged to attend and listen. These gatherings are inspired by author Sebastian Junger.
They aim to establish a greater understanding between local veterans and the friends and neighbors they fought for.
In the tradition of warrior storytelling, veterans are invited to describe the pride, grief, rage, or quiet appreciation of life that the war bestowed upon them.
They can share a story, summary of service, message, letter home, excerpt from a war journal, or even the story behind a photograph.
The events are non-political, and all perspectives are valued.
“We often hear about veterans, but we very rarely get to hear from them, to hear their own voices talking about their experience,” says Marty McMahon, the host at the St. Johnsbury location, and a member of CCV’s Veterans Services Team. “We can’t have a real dialogue with veterans until we take the time to listen with no judgment.”
The event format is drawn from a June 2015 Vanity Fair article by Sebastian Junger, highlighting the challenges of post-traumatic stress among veterans.
“Making every town and city hall in the country available to veterans who want to speak publicly about the war,” Junger said.
Junger suggested and believed holding these community forums would “return the experience of war to our entire nation, rather than just leaving it to the people who fought.”
U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA), a Marine combat veteran, hosted the first Veterans Town Hall of this kind in 2015 in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
“Support of our military does not start with a ‘support the troops’ bumper sticker and culminate with grilled chicken on Memorial Day weekend,” said Kyle Aines, CCV’s Associate Director of Veterans and Military Services, and the host of the Rutland event. “As military members struggle to reintegrate back into society, it is imperative that society have a clear understanding what they are transitioning from. The Veterans Town Hall is that bridge and connection.”