New Magazine will help vets tell their stories

Erika Ward

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 A new literary magazine, specifically for veterans at Western Illinois University, will give students a chance to share their military experiences. 

Barbara Harroun and Jacque Wilson-Jordan, both professors in the English and journalism department at Western, are working together to create the magazine, which was created and produced by Western’s veterans — both students and faculty. 

“A lot of people don’t want to talk,” veteran Bradley Burgess said. “But they still have something to say.” 

The publication is currently workshopping its submissions. 

Writers have the option to use a pseudonym, or write anonymously, as some topics may be difficult for a person to speak about — especially with his or her name attached. 

The magazine, Veterans’ Voices: Personal Stories of Combat and Peace, is meant to help veterans tell their personal stories from their experiences in the service, no matter what they are. Writing has been seen as therapeutic, which can help veterans cope with different problems. 

Harroun and Wilson-Jordan said they hope that this magazine will give people a different perspective and a new outlook on life and give veterans a place to connect with each other through creative writing. Harroun posed the question: “How can we serve those who have served?” 

Veterans who attended the informational meeting about the magazine agreed that holidays like Veterans Day have become commercialized. They feel many traditional students do not understand the U.S. is at war because it has become the norm; therefore they are numb to it. 

“I remember when the troops went over and when the coffins came back,” Burgess said. “There’s a loss of connection now, people don’t understand that we’re at war. We’ve been at war their whole lives.” 

Luke Smith, another veteran, hopes that this magazine will enlighten readers. 

“People shake my hand on Veterans Day and don’t actually know what they’re thanking me for,” Smith said. 

Some veterans believe people don’t take into account what Veterans Day is really about. 

“Veterans Day is more than a mattress sale,” veteran Jerry Kepple said. 

Harroun and Wilson-Jordan hope that writers address these issues to help civilians understand. 

“The war we’re in is the longest in our country’s history,” Harroun said. “Everyone over there is someone’s brother or son… That’s not an abstraction. 

“This magazine would offer the ability for veterans to focus and step out of themselves, sometimes people are hesitant to share — if you lived through it that’s enough. Names don’t have to be attached though, we don’t want that to get in the way of someone telling their story.” 

The goal is that this will not only provide a new perspective and an outlet for veterans, but it will also help to establish lines that regular civilians should not cross with veterans and connect more people with similar experiences.

“The community is incredible,” Harroun said. 

“Once you take that oath, your family just grew by millions,” Burgess said. “No matter where you go, you’ll always have someone there.” 

If any veterans wish to participate in Veterans’ Voices: Personal Stories of Combat and Peace, email Barbara Harroun at bc-harroun@wiu.edu or Jacque Wilson-Jordan at j-wilson-jordan@wiu.edu for more information. 

“When it comes down to it, we’re all there for each other,” veteran Jared Worley said.

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