Symposium Aims to Equip Military Veterans with Skills They Need for Creative Expression

­Every military veteran has a story to tell, and a three-day symposium at Eastern Kentucky University this summer aims to help them do just that.

The Military Experience and Arts Symposium, at the university’s Noel Studio for Academic Creativity July 5-7, will equip veterans with empowering creative skills and a voice.

Concurrent workshops will focus on creative prose, poetry, sculpting, drama, music, and therapeutic expression. Numerous support services will also be on hand, including the mobile vet center from Lexington and other veteran service organizations.

Each night will feature special events open to the public that are designed to bridge the gap between civilian and military cultures.

A music concert is planned for the Ravine the evening of July 6, and veteran participants and contributors to EKU’s award-winning Journal of Military Experience will showcase their works in a special reading on the evening of July 7. The second volume of JME will be released on July 5.

Each night will feature speeches and lectures by well-known instructors in the fields of creative writing and creative therapies, including Brian Mochenhaupt, Iraq War veteran and combat correspondent for Esquire, the Atlantic and Reader’s Digest; Emma Rainey, founder of the “Writing My Way Back Home” workshop for veterans; and Ron Capps, director of the therapeutic writing program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“With each generation, young men and women encounter the extremes of the human condition in locations near and far, returning home in disbelief, struggling to explain – to themselves as well as others – what it was that happened to them,” said Travis Martin, event coordinator and editor of EKU’s Journal of Military Experience. “These three days of workshops, other events and the camaraderie are designed specifically to help veterans tell their stories.”

The event is limited to 100 veterans – any era or branch of service. In addition to the free workshops, all attendees will receive free lodging and meals for three days, free supplies and textbooks to help with the creative processes.

For more information, as well as a link to registration, visit militaryexperience.org/symposium, or contact Martin at travis.martin@uky.edu or 859-257-1840.

More than 1,000 military veterans and their dependents are now enrolled at EKU.              The last two years, among the nation’s four-year colleges and universities, EKU has earned No. 1 and No. 2 national rankings, respectively, from Military Times EDGE magazine for its commitment to helping military veterans further their education. In 2010, Eastern launched Operation Veteran Success, a series of initiatives designed to make the university even more veteran-helpful.

                EKU’s Operation Veteran Success initiatives include:

·         No admission fees for undergraduate veterans.

·         In-state tuition for all out-of-state veterans nationwide.

·         Maximum credit hours for military experience.

·         Priority registration.

·         Book vouchers and Books for Boots Exchange Library.

·         Veterans Bridge to College Success cohort classes.

·         Veterans orientation course.

·         EKU is also home to The Journal of Military Experience, which won one of 14 Phi Kappa Phi national literacy grants and “Program of the Year” honors from Student Veterans of America for providing veterans at EKU with a voice in 2011. The second volume provides the same service to veterans nationwide and will include the scholarship of researchers interested in bridging the gap between civilian and military cultures.

·         Veteran-helpful withdrawal and readmission policy.

·         Vet-2-Vet sponsorship program and active Vets Club.

·         Recreational and other extracurricular activities.

·         Specially designated housing for student veterans.

·         Veteran Studies minor, believed to be the nation’s first, to help those who haven’t served in the military to better understand the issues that veterans face, and to help the veterans themselves deal with those issues.

Also, EKU was recently named a VetSuccess University by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and now has a full-time VA employee, Kim Dickey, on staff to help veterans with their benefits issues.

In addition to the Military Times honors, Eastern was also recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and has been named a  Pat Tillman Military Scholar Partnership University, one of only 14 in the nation.

For more information about services available to veterans at EKU, contact the university’s Veterans Affairs Office at 859-622-7838 or visit va.eku.edu.

Published on April 18, 2012