NEA Project Helps Troops Write About Wartime Experiences
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 21, 2004 The National Endowment for the Arts is offering a series of writer's workshops led by accomplished authors to help troops and family members in telling their wartime experiences.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (left) talks with Dana Gioia, chairman, National Endowment for the Arts, at an April 20 reception at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va. The the event was held to announce "Operation Homecoming: Writing the WartimeExperience," a program to teach servicemen and women how to write about their wartime experiences. The first workshop will be at Fort Drum in upstate New York June 3-4. Information about the program is available at www.operationhomecoming.org. Photo by Steven E. Purcell, National Endowment for the Arts
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
The two-day workshops will be held at several stateside and overseas military bases for troops returning from wartime duty in locales like Afghanistan and Iraq, NEA Chairman Dana Gioia noted today at a press conference held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va.
The workshops, part of an NEA program called Operation Homecoming, are important, Gioia noted, because they'll help to preserve the "first-hand experience of military personnel" returning from recent conflicts, while creating an invaluable public archive.
Workshops will be led by distinguished writers such as Tom Clancy, author of "The Hunt for Red October," Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down," and Bobbie Ann Mason, author of "In Country."
Gioia said the first workshop -- for soldiers and their family members -- is slated for June 3 and 4 at Fort Drum, N.Y.
Other workshop locations include: soldiers, Fort Richardson, Alaska; Marines, Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Pendleton, Calif.; airmen, Hurlburt Field, Fla.; and sailors, Norfolk, Va., and San Diego, Calif.
Gioia said he expects the writer's workshop program will be conducted over a year's time. Another set of workshops likely will be held in Italy, he added, noting that dates of other workshops will be announced in the future.
The Defense Department is working with the NEA to put on the writer's workshops, noted Charles S. Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
"Operation Homecoming is more than a program to the Department of Defense," Abell observed at the press conference. "It is a partnership."
Service members returning from duty in the war against terrorism, he explained, have "myriad experiences that many on the home front may never fully understand."
Tutoring provided at the workshops, he noted, would help service members and their families tell the public about "their sacrifice, their courage (and) their camaraderie."
Such an experience, Abell said, would be important to service members and their families, and would also benefit the Defense Department and the nation.
The NEA also is soliciting service members' and family members' wartime recollections reflected in prose, essays, letters and other writings for a book anthology of recent conflicts.
Submissions for the anthology will be accepted through Dec. 31, and can be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Operation Homecoming, National Endowment for the Arts, Suite 519, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20506.