2018-2019 National Hospital Ambassador
Four Ways VFW Auxiliary Members Can Get Involved with the Veterans Voices Writing Project
We are approaching our half-way point in the VFW Auxiliary Program Year. We need to check the blueprints to make sure our foundation is stable and on-track.
- Start a writing group or become a writing aid for the Veterans Voices Writing Project.
- Print the national events schedule for the VA Rehabilitation Games.
- Learn what adaptive sports are all about at va.gov/adaptivesports.
- Attend an event.
Twelve bricks –The National Advisory Committee offers two scholarships:
- NAC Volunteer of the Year for one male and one female
- James H. Parke Memorial Scholarship for a Student Volunteer
Veterans Voices Writing Project
We have heard their mission statement before, but it bears repeating:
The mission of the Veterans Voices Writing Project is to enable military veterans to experience solace and satisfaction through our writing program. The organization’s vision is a world where people appreciate that writing can both heal and entertain.
Any veteran can write prose or poems and submit it for possible publication in the Veterans’ Voices magazine. The 64-page magazine is published three times a year. The Fall 2018 magazine contained 28 prose entries and 98 poems including the two pieces featured below.
Why Ships Are Called She
By J. Allen Whitt
VA Medical Center – Albuquerque, NM
After two and a half years of Vietnam service aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), I understand why ships are called “She.” Even though Coral Sea was not a living thing, I felt she had become so. She had a distinct personality, quirks and moods. She seemed capable of sadness, exultation and indifference, as well as dashing boldness, pride and unpredictability. She housed us, fed us, carried us across oceans and kept us safe. She took us through a massive typhoon with 130 miles per hour winds that sent gray 40-foot waves spilling over the flight deck.
She was easily recognizable from a distance and could entrance us as she gracefully slipped through still seas, cutting symmetric bow-waves that spread across the surface. In time, the ship became mine, and I fell in love with her. Long after I deserted her, I listened for news of her, and felt that I still knew her intimately. A sailor’s attachment to his ship is frequently strong and abiding.
The attachment is also to fellow crew members, a movable community of those who live, eat, sleep, face dangers and work to keep the ship and her mission going. All sailors, from those who first dared to venture out onto the waters, to those who sail in today’s technological marvels, are members of a family with shared knowledge, experience and skills. They understand the power, mystery and appeal of the sea.
In combat, or when a ship and her crew have suffered a great tragedy, this attachment to ship and crew may be greater still. The battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) has been at the bottom of Pearl Harbor since 1941. When it was sunk, it took 1,177 men with her, most entombed inside the ship, beyond rescue. Arizona was righted, her superstructure removed, and her guns salvaged for use on other Navy ships. No longer commissioned, the ship still flies the American flag. She is considered a war grave.
When visitors stand on the Arizona memorial, every few minutes they can see dark blobs of fuel oil escape from the mangled and corroded hull of the ship. Through the transparent water, the blobs slowly bubble to the surface of the harbor, and spread out in a sheen over the water. To those who know the story of Arizona and her men, these small, seemingly insignificant drops of oil, are known as Black Tears.
Few Arizona survivors are still alive. Occasionally, after visitors have left the Arizona Memorial for the day, the Navy takes the family of an Arizona survivor out to the Memorial in a Navy launch. A ceremony is conducted for the deceased veteran, and an urn carrying his ashes is given to a Navy diver. The diver swims down to the ship, places the urn inside the hull, and leaves it. More than 30 Arizona survivors have been buried in this way.
Seven decades later, these once-young sailors have rejoined their ship and their shipmates under the now peaceful waters of Pearl Harbor.
Listen to Our Veterans’ Voices
By Helen Anderson Glass
VA Medical Center – Tucson, AZ
Hear the music–bells ringing and the sound of joyful singing.
Listen to every word. Veterans’ voices are finally heard.
They’re not seeking glory. They want to tell their story.
“SO LISTEN UP”
They have something to say, sometimes a price to pay.
Daily life’s a game of war, but what are they fighting for?
Far back in history, they gave their lives for you and me.
“SO LISTEN UP”
They’re being deployed with no one there to fill the void.
No one can ever replace, nor anything can erase
their look, happy or sad, so put down your “faithful” iPad,
“AND LISTEN UP”
Instead of “texting” or playing a game,
go to “Wounded Warriors” and find a name.
They have a better story to tell,
and the game they play is straight out of hell.
Don’t hesitate. Do it today and hear what they have to say.
“STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN”
You might learn a thing or two, but now it’s all up to you
to learn and to spread their words.
Help get our veterans’ voices heard.
Are you willing to do your part,
and have it come right from your heart?
“NOW YOU’RE TALKING AND WE’RE LISTENING”
Four Ways Auxiliary Members can Get Involved with the Veterans Voices Writing Project:
- Become a writing aid to help veterans write their story.
- Start a writing group with veterans in your area, VVWP can help you get started.
- Organize fundraisers within your community or workplace.
- Share the mission and information with veterans, their families and community.
- Represent VVWP on Veterans Administration Voluntary Service Committee.
- Serve on the Board of Directors.
- Type manuscripts for veteran writers.
- Help office staff with administrative duties.
2. Subscribe to Veterans’ Voices
- An annual subscription (three issues per year) is $35.00.
- Encourage each member to buy a subscription to read then donate.
- Encourage each Auxiliary to buy a subscription for a VA or non-VA medical facility.
- Veterans Voices Writing Project is supported solely by contributions from corporations, individuals and veterans’ organizations.
- Every donation makes a difference for printing, prizes, mailing costs, maintaining website and technology, staff and offices.
- Donations and sponsorships support ensure that the project continues to help veterans write and gives them a magazine to see their work in print.
- Monthly monetary gift.
- One-time monetary gift.
10 helpful tips for volunteer writing aides and writing groups:
- Spread the word about your group.
- Be a good listener, be compassionate and always be ready to take notes.
- Find a regular meeting place.
- The Veterans Voices Writing Project office will provide the group with any information you need to get started.
- A good tip to remember is that it’s perfectly all right to have the meeting even if there has been no writing at all!
- Writing aides don’t collect dues or monies at any of the gatherings. If you have people wanting to donate; direct them to the website or Veterans Voices Writing Project office.
- A sense of family develops and your local veteran contacts and network begin to send “referrals” to the group.
- Keep in touch with local veterans groups, veterans and their friends/family who want to write. Every veteran has a style of writing and drawing that is entirely his/her own. Encourage veterans to express themselves.
- Follow the submission guidelines found in the magazine or on the website.
- Being a volunteer writing aide is worthwhile, exciting and a personal kind of volunteer experience. Veterans Voices Writing Project is thankful to you for being a volunteer.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!