September 21, 2018

Veterans Book Groups program returns

At the end of this month, a series of book reading and discussion groups geared towards connecting veterans with others who have served, will begin again and run through mid-winter.

The free groups, which are organized by the Vermont Humanities Council, will allow readers to explore various literature together, including books, poetry, articles, and short stories — all with the goal of fostering camaraderie and creating a safe space to reflect and share ideas.

Participants receive free copies of all the readings, and a light meal is provided at each session. Past meetings of the Veterans Book Groups have included exploring “Jarhead,” by Anthony Swofford; “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien; “Be Safe, I Love You,” by Cara Hoffman; “War” by Sebastian Junger; and “I’m Still Standing,” by Shoshana Johnson.

Since it began in 2015, the Veterans Book Groups program has served more than 70 veterans at five sites in Vermont.

Running Wednesdays from Aug. 31 through December, eight sessions will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the South Burlington Vet Center, at 19 Gregory Drive. That series will be led by Michael Heaney, retired history professor and Vietnam War veteran and Marie Milord, a team leader and counselor at the center. The group is open to any former service member who served in a combat theater.

The Burlington group, specifically geared towards women who served in the U.S. military, starts Friday, Sept. 9 and runs through January at the Lakeside Veterans Clinic at 128 Lakeside Avenue. This group will be led by Merilyn Burrington of the Vermont Humanities Council, and social worker Ellen Duval. The group is open to all women who have served.

“For the first time since I left my active-duty life, I feel like I have a group of people I can relate to,” said a recent participant in a Veterans Book Group, a release by the Council stated. “I moved back [to Vermont] and have not felt acclimated yet to the community. But [the meeting] last night served as a beacon of hope.”

Pre-registration for the book groups is required. To register for the South Burlington Vet Center group, contact Marie Milord at marie.milord@va.gov or 862-1806. To register for the Burlington Women Veterans group, contact Ellen Duval at ellen.duval@va.gov or 657-7092.

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