Veterans' Voices: Introduction

28 June 2018 By Zach Waddle Zach Waddle (69) 0 Comments

Veterans’ Voices is a collaborative effort between Miami Valley’s flagship NPR station, WYSO 91.3 FM, Wright State’s Veteran and Military Center (VMC), and the New Media Incubator (NMI). The project sees veterans interviewing other veterans, whose stories are then archived in the Library of Congress and Wright State’s archives. At its core, Veterans' Voices preserves the oral histories of the men and women of our country's military. The project began in 2014, and by the next year had received the Spirit of Innovation Award of the President’s Awards for Excellence. As impressive as that is, there’s still a lot more to this project!


I first heard about the project during the spring of 2018 while taking Digital Media & Writing here at WSU. It was no surprise; WSU is well-known for being a pro-veteran university. As a veteran myself, I was immediately curious about all that Veterans’ Voices entailed. I assumed I knew the gist of it after a surface-level explanation, but oh, how wrong I was.


As I came in one afternoon to learn more about the equipment at the New Media Incubator, I was given the opportunity to see an interview taking place. My main focus was on learning about the recording process and how the equipment worked, but I caught bits and pieces of the person's story over the course of the interview. I'm sure I awkwardly nodded my head at certain familiar elements of the story such as basic training, tech school (where we learn our job), and deployment. Even though I was only overhearing the person’s story, I felt a camaraderie that I hadn't felt in a while. That's when I realized the power of this magnificent project.


This amazing collaborative effort showcases the real experiences of members of the different branches of the U.S. military from different eras. These stories are so valuable for many reasons: they provide future military as well as non-military an opportunity to understand what it’s really like to serve, they collectively form a historical archive to ensure that the sacrifices that have been made are never forgotten, they help veterans connect with other veterans which allows them to look at their own experiences from different perspectives, and they help veterans heal through opening up and sharing their experiences, which can often be difficult. Another benefit of this project is that in sharing these stories, each veteran can regain the identity that they had to put on the shelf when they joined the military. Too often it is assumed that a vet is a vet, and military experience is generally the same. While military members do share many similar experiences, they are still individuals, and they experience the military as an individual despite being part of a unit.


Now, this is the hard part. How could I pick a few stories to showcase? These veterans are people who sacrificed normalcy and freedoms to serve their country and to preserve the freedoms of others, and now they have the opportunity to open up and share their experiences. Every single interview conducted through Veterans’ Voices is a part of something greater than itself; a collection of inspiring, insightful experiences that provide an opportunity for healing and establishing connections. I hope it will inspire other vets to share their stories, because too many veterans carry the weight of their experiences in silence and most have no idea how helpful it can be to just talk about it. Sure, it’s not easy to talk about some things, but you can help yourself and it can help others who are in similar situations!


Moving forward, I’ll be discussing the stories that have been shared. In the meantime, you can check out the Veterans’ Voices project on Facebook. Veterans’ Voices is providing such a great service to the people who have provided a great service to our country. I encourage everyone to spread the word about this undetaking!

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