The Associated Students Veteran’s Outreach Center is putting on its very first “Stories Deployed: The Veteran Chronicles,” honoring the approximately 150 veterans on Western’s campus and many more throughout the Bellingham community.
This free event on May 16 at 7 p.m. allows veterans to share their stories. It will be hosted in Fraser 4.
The Veteran Chronicles is a safe space for veterans to openly share what they have gone through being a member of the military.
“I think there’s a lot of misconception about people’s time serving in the military, people not knowing about what people do when they serve in the military or experiences that they have,” said AS Veteran’s Outreach Center Coordinator Jesse Atkins.
Atkins encourages not only supporters of veterans to attend, but also skeptics and those curious to learn more.
“A big goal of mine is to remove the stigma that veterans are damaged goods, have post-traumatic stress disorder or are a time bomb waiting to explode,” Atkins said.
To prepare for the event, participants attended workshops to discuss and develop the pieces they would share with the help of Western english professor Kate Trueblood.
“I’m really excited we have a group of people willing to tell their story,” Atkins said. “And I think it could only make our community stronger by sharing our stories.”
Atkins hopes that this event will assist the veterans along their path of whatever they hope to achieve.
These accomplishments may include reconciliation, a release, further understanding or becoming more comfortable talking about their experiences.
“Their stories are made by what they want to tell,” Atkins said. “We each have individual stories.”
The following week after the Veteran Chronicles will be Patriot Week at Western, with events including a volunteer work party, memorial ribbon handout and a showing of Lone Survivor.
The Veteran’s Outreach Center will be displaying 146 flags on Old Main lawn to represent those in the armed forces from Washington killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“My biggest goal is education of people, sharing of stories and ultimately making this community here at Western and in Bellingham, a more understanding and safer community for veterans to be in,” Atkins said.