By Sean Hutzell
In mid-January, the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project (VHP) Director, Karen Lloyd, took some of us from the Touchstones- National Endowment for the Humanities veterans pilot program on a private tour. We were treated to visits in rooms not typically open to the public. Our group submitted five projects to the VHP: a diary, an oral interview, two collections of photographs, and a memoir. These individual stories reflect the journeys of three service members from the army and two from the navy and they record more than a century of conflicts—from World War I to current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We’re grateful to each who made the extra effort—a significant one—of time, focus, and a willingness to reflect back on and chronicle elements of their unique journeys. The veterans and staff entered their work into the Veterans History Project in an intimate and moving ceremony. We each then received reading cards for the Library, ensuring a continuing relationship with one of the world’s greatest libraries.
Touchstones is now moving forward with our second program group under our grant from the NEH. On February 7, 15 veterans launched round two of Completing the Odyssey: A Journey Home. Based on feedback from the first program group, we added two meetings: an initial Touchstones orientation and a final session to identify next steps to make the program available to more veterans around the country. As part of that outreach, our three Touchstones veterans leaders and program staff will present our work to the Veterans Administration in Orlando, Florida this week.