University News

Veterans Voices Publication Debuts at Western

April 29, 2015

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MACOMB, IL – A launch reception to commemorate the debut of a new publication for Western Illinois University veterans, service members or alumni, will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. Monday, May 11 at the University Art Gallery.

The celebration marks the first printing of Veterans Voices: Personal Stories of Combat and Peace, a collaborative project between the WIU Veterans Resource Center and the WIU Department of English and Journalism. More than 30 submissions make up the first publication, ranging from fiction and non-fiction to poetry.

Complimentary copies of the first printing will be available during the May 11 event. The celebration is open free to the public.

Veterans Voices was designed for a wide audience of both veterans and non-veterans. Often, people who have never experienced military or combat situations express that they are unsure of the best way to connect with veterans and service members on campus and in their lives. The literary project is a unique opportunity to learn more about the personal experiences of WIU classmates, co-workers and friends, an opportunity to show support, to better understand what it means to say "Thank you for your service."

An important mission of this project is to help give a voice to our veterans and service members. Not only can the writing and sharing of stories help to heal an author, the activity of reading stories about familiar experiences can also be very therapeutic when one is trying to find solace and community.

The following is a short excerpt from "Broken But Breathing," a story by WIU-Quad Cities student veteran Luke Cummings, which can be found in its entirety in the literary magazine.

"The first bottle felt good, relaxed the muscles a bit. The second bottle came slightly closer to hitting its mark. His mind filled with clouds of obscurity, dissolving the film reel of memories that played in his head every minute of every day. He filled his glass three quarters of the way, and watched the translucent, caramel liquid swirling within itself.

It always smells much better than it tastes, which isn't bad either. The sharp clink of a dense glass bottle meeting a glass coffee table broke the silence in his small, one-bedroom half of the duplex, and he leaned back into a dingy, brown couch, the leather of which was worn and wrinkled. His world seemed to be righting itself finally, his demons cowering into their respective dark corners in his mind. He ran his hand through his thick, brown hair, then smiled and thought about nothing as he lifted his glass for another drink.

But then he saw the tattoo on his left forearm. The black, twisting shapes began to reignite his thoughts, cackling at him for trying to escape his past, and the demons crawled out one by one, whispering his name, reminding him of those memories he so desperately wished to forget. So he decided to get rid of that mark on his arm that the alcohol couldn't erase."

For more information about the publication, email or or contact the Veterans Resource Center at (309) 298-3505.

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