Today, less than 1/2 of 1% of the American population serves in the military, compared to 12% in World War II. Yet every day an average of 22 veterans commit suicide. Few of us know how to connect with these people who have made sacrifices, deferred their careers, and led a warrior's life. In creating a writing course geared toward returning veterans, Jim found that each of them has a desire to continue their mission of service. Writing becomes a way of bearing witness to their truth. We can do more than say 'thank you for your service' - we can build community through our empathy, and we can serve our veterans by being an enlightened witness. Based on the work of Ron Capps, founder of veterans writer's project, Jim suggests three questions that civilians can ask a veteran: What branch of the military did you serve in?; Where did you serve?; What was your job in the military? The stories of these veterans who participated in his writing course can be seen at www.lpcvetstories.com.
After a 30-year career in banking, Jim is now an English teacher at Las Positas College in Livermore, CA. His love of education prompted him to serve as an elected school board trustee and to earn his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary's College. Jim’s dissertation is associated with two semester-long studies he conducted with student veterans about the benefits of writing about military experience. For many years he wrote a human interest column for the Bay Area News Group, and continues to blog in his free time.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx