By Sean Hutzell
After a successful second round of the Touchstones Completing the Odyssey program with veterans, Touchstones looks forward to future work with the veteran community. In support of those new endeavors and expansion of our existing program, Touchstones held a well-received “Happy Hour” to raise funds for several projects. One is to refine the Leader’s Guide and Participant Workbook and to create print-on-demand editions to ensure interested veterans groups have ready access to the program.
Like all Touchstones works, the Guide and Workbook are designed to provide instructional materials, texts for discussion, and evaluation tools for the discussion leader while offering the participants access to the texts and related worksheets that tie personal experience to the themes of service, war, and homecoming found in the Odyssey and the contemporary selections with which those texts are paired.
The second project seeks revenue to support implementation of the Completing the Odyssey: A Journey Home program at the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (www.MCVET.org) in Baltimore. One of the trained discussion group leaders, Joe Smith, a Vietnam veteran, has been instrumental in exploring a partnership between Touchstones and MCVET. Based on his own experience becoming a trained Touchstones discussion leader and running two segments of the program, Joe strongly believes the program offers veterans valuable interpersonal and critical thinking skills.
Those skills complement the education and workforce readiness training taking place at MCVET, whose mission is to provide homeless veterans with the tools and capacity they need “to rejoin their communities as productive citizens.” With more veterans participating in the Touchstones program this spring and a growing interest in combined veteran-civilian groups, Touchstones anticipates that Completing the Odyssey will engage many new groups in the months and years ahead.