Kristin G. Kelly, Ph.D., an associate professor of English at the University of North Georgia, is a leader for Talking Service, our reading and discussion program for veterans (the program is sponsored locally by the Georgia Humanities Council). She recently sent us the following update on her work and we want to share it because it encapsulates benefits for both participants and program volunteers. Her group is reading selections from Standing Down: From Warrior to Civilian, our anthology for Talking Service.
“Yes, the days whip by lately! All is well here, and I send my best out to you. I’m right at the halfway point of my scheduled meetings, but I foresee holding them well past my original end date of mid-April 2015. This community project has meant more to me than any other, and I think the young men who have attended feel strongly about it too. I’ve had three young veterans attend in all—a small number now, but the cautious inquiries keep coming, and I have faith that the program will grow because the vets have begun to recruit in the community as well. The one Marine who has come to all three meetings even said that participating [in the groups] is “actually one of the most therapeutic things” he does. He has been to Afghanistan four times, he experienced some difficulties at homecoming, and is now on fire at our meetings—so smart and thoughtful. I can see him becoming a discussion leader in the future. We’ve read Tolstoy, Brian Turner, and Ernest Hemingway in our evening discussions. The reading for February is by Karl Marlantes, and we have reading selections already picked out that will last us until June at least. The anthology has been a great support for these veterans.”
“So, this is a program I would feel privileged to extend. I don’t feel that it has been “work” at all, just a labor of love, so I don’t know what I should do about the money. I thank you all for working together to let me bring the program to Hall County. We are building something lasting, I think. Let me know how others are experiencing their programs—I’m fascinated by this program model.”