In an effort to promote reading, reflecting, and community action on issues affecting the Tri-state area, the University of Southern Indiana has partnered with a number of local groups and organizations to offer the first annual Community Read during the month of April. With the topic, “War and our Communities,” the public program will focus on readjustment issues that veterans and their families face after war.
Facilitated by USI, this year’s book selection is “The Things they Carried,” by Tim O’Brien. A collection of short pieces that reads as a novel, the book depicts the men of Alpha Company and the character Tim O’Brien, who has survived his tour of Vietnam.
After reading the book, the community is invited to discuss the effects of serving in an active combat zone, impacts on soldiers and their families, and how the community can help ease their reintegration. Book discussions will take place face-to-face and online.
Jim McGarrah will deliver the opening keynote address at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 1 in the Browning Room at Central Library in Evansville. Poems, essays, and stories by McGarrah have appeared in After Shocks: Poems of Recovery, Avatar Review, The Café Review, and more. He is the author of a memoir of the Vietnam War entitled “A Temporary Sort of Peace,” which won the Eric Hoffer Legacy Non-Fiction Award in 2010. Also on April 1, the library will open a display of artwork by Rick McCarty, local artist and poet, which depicts his experience in Vietnam.
The program will also include writing workshops and a presentations by General Billy R. Cooper, author of “The Reluctant General;” Dr. Betty Moseley Brown, associate director of the Center for Women Veterans in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Dr.Steven Williams, USI associate professor of sociology, and Jay Zimmer, retired journalist and Navy veteran.
“Through this project, we hope to improve our community’s ability to assist our returning veterans and their families once their service is complete,” said Dr. Anne Staham, director of USI’s Service Learning Program. “We will be collecting insights and suggestions to pass along to those who might be able to make a difference. I invite the public to participate and contribute to the dialogue.”
Program sponsors include ECHO Housing Corporation, Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library, Indiana Military Family Assistance Network, Ivy Tech Community College, Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University, Operation Support on the Homefront, VA Health Care, VFW Post 1114, Veterans for Peace, and WNIN.
Information on joining a discussion group, upcoming events, resources for veterans and families, related programming, and more is available at www.usi.edu/communityread. A Facebook page dedicated to the USI Community Read can also be found online by clicking here.