Saturday, Nov. 11 is Veterans Day and the perfect time to stop, reflect on the service of all those that served in the armed forces and thank them.
While many people have never served, there are plenty of good reads out there to get an understanding of the courage and bravery of those that served.
Those that have served face challenges as they return to civilian life.
Below are a selection of books to give readers an idea of what service is like as well as books to help veterans transition to college or filing medical paperwork.
To all the veterans: thank you for your service.
Author: Library of Congress, Tim Weiner
An oral history of the themes of war provides letters, photographs, and sketches, from from U.S. veterans’ that have fought in World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf.
Author: Janelle Hill
The typical wounded soldier must complete and file twenty-two forms after an active-duty injury. To soldiers and their families coping with the shock and reality of the injuries, figuring out what to do next–even completing tasks that seem easy like submitting paperwork–can be overwhelming and confusing. The second edition of this popular resource guide has been thoroughly revised to reflect new policies, additional benefits, updated procedures, and changes to insurance, including traumatic injury insurance and social security disability insurance.
Author: Max Cleland
A searing memoir of recovery and triumph by one of America’s finest patriots, detailing his remarkable journey from smalltown Georgia to Vietnam to a U.S. Senate seat, his trajectory serving as scaffolding for a withering critique of the Bush administration’s handling of September 11.
Author: Joe Klein
The story of two decorated combat veterans linked by tragedy, who came home from the Middle East and found a new way to save their comrades and heal their country. This is one of the most hopeful stories to emerge from Iraq and Afghanistan–a saga of lives saved, not wasted.
Author: Jillian Ventrone
Today’s soldiers are highly motivated to serve, but face numerous challenges, especially considering the sacrifices they have made over the past decade of war. As the service branches face budget cuts and draw downs, soldiers need to be aware of the resources and options available to help make them more competitive for promotion or more credible for potential civilian-sector employers.
Author: Dan Simmons
The United States is near total collapse. But 87% of the population doesn’t care: they’re addicted to flashback, a drug that allows its users to re-experience the best moments of their lives. After ex-detective Nick Bottom’s wife died in a car accident, he went under the flash to be with her; he’s lost his job, his teenage son, and his livelihood as a result.
Author: Brian Moore
In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, Christian educator Brian Moore found himself unable to quiet the horror and rage in his heart. When his unit of the Army National Guard deployed to Iraq about a year later he gladly took up his gun, prepared to seek justice for his country. Yet from his first step into a battle-zone in the Middle East it became clear that his expectations of Iraq, its people, and war in general would be challenged.
Collected by: Maxine Hong Kingston
This poignant collection, compiled from Kingston’s healing workshops, contains the distilled wisdom of survivors of five wars, including combatants, war widows, spouses, children, conscientious objectors, and veterans of domestic abuse. Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace includes accounts from people that grew up in military families, served as medics in the thick of war, or came home to homelessness. All struggle with trauma – PTSD, substance abuse, and other consequences of war and violence. Through their extraordinary writings, readers witness worlds coming apart and being put back together again through liberating insight, community, and the deep transformation that is possible only by coming to grips with the past.
Author: George Bush
Growing out of President Bush’s own outreach and the ongoing work of the George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative, Portraits of Courage brings together sixty-six full-color portraits and a four-panel mural painted by President Bush of members of the United States military who have served our nation with honor since 9/11–and whom he has come to know personally.
Author: Howard Schultz
A celebration of the extraordinary courage, dedication, and sacrifice of this generation of American veterans on the battlefield and their equally valuable contributions on the home front. Because so few of us now serve in the military, our men and women in uniform have become strangers to us. We stand up at athletic events to honor them, but we hardly know their true measure. Here, Starbucks CEO and longtime veterans’ advocate Howard Schultz and National Book Award finalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post offer an enlightening, inspiring corrective. The authors honor acts of uncommon valor in Iraq and Afghanistan, including an Army sergeant who repeatedly runs through a storm of gunfire to save the lives of his wounded comrades; two Marines who sacrifice their lives to halt an oncoming truck bomb and protect thirty-three of their brothers in arms; a sixty-year-old doctor who joins the Navy to honor his fallen son.
Author: Helen Thorpe
In Soldier Girls , Helen Thorpe follows the lives of three women over twelve years on their paths to the military, overseas to combat, and back home…and then overseas again for two of them. These women, who are quite different in every way, become friends, and we watch their interaction and also what happens when they are separated. We see their families, their lovers, their spouses, their children. We see them work extremely hard, deal with the attentions of men on base and in war zones, and struggle to stay connected to their families back home. We see some of them drink too much, have illicit affairs, and react to the deaths of fellow soldiers. And we see what happens to one of them when the truck she is driving hits an explosive in the road, blowing it up. She survives, but her life may never be the same again.
Author: Travis Mills
Thousands of soldiers die every year to defend their country. United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills was sure that he would become another statistic when, during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, he was caught in an IED blast four days before his twenty-fifth birthday. Against the odds, he lived, but at a severe cost–Travis became one of only five soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to survive a quadruple amputation.<br> <br> Suddenly forced to reconcile with the fact that he no longer had arms or legs, Travis was faced with a future drastically different from the one he had imagined for himself. He would never again be able to lead his squad, stroke his fingers against his wife’s cheek, or pick up his infant daughter.<br> <br> Travis struggled through the painful and anxious days of rehabilitation so that he could regain the strength to live his life to the fullest. With enormous willpower and endurance, the unconditional love of his family, and a generous amount of faith, Travis shocked everyone with his remarkable recovery. Even without limbs, he still swims, dances with his wife, rides mountain bikes, and drives his daughter to school.
Drawing from personal experiences helps build understanding and inclusive communities say the organizers of Write for Change, an upcoming program hosted at the Elkhart Public Library.
EPL is working with Elkhart Community Schools, InterAction Inc. and Premier Arts for this year’s Culture Series, an ongoing program of movie screenings, guest speakers and photo exhibitions to highlight and celebrate differences.
On Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. the downtown library branch will host Write for Change, a special, after-hours event, where community members will be invited to share their own stories that fit this year’s Culture Series theme of “Different Together” which aims to empower the community by celebrating differences.
InterAction Inc. will be on hand to provide help and writing prompts to people willing to share their stories.
EPL is hosting the event to showcase its place in the community for people of all backgrounds to come to engage in discussions, write, get informed and take positive steps in the community.
Students from ECS with InterAction training will help turn the stories into performance pieces for Premier Arts for the Stage for Change shows at schools and other community places in April and May.
Stories will be collected through the end of December, according to ECS.
“It’s our hope that we can collect stories from throughout the community,” said Tessa Sutton, Supervisor of Connective Leadership and Inclusion for ECS. “Our students have incredible stories to tell about their lives, as do many people in the community.”
The stories can make a difference and be a spark for change, according to InterAction Executive Director and Co-Founder Deandra Cadet.
“We channel raw individual narratives on identity and difference into solutions that transform campuses into environments where all students can flourish,” Cadet said.
To submit a story visit http://bit.do/elkhartwrite/.
Visitors to the Wellfield Botantic Gardens can enjoy the beautiful flora and get a great story during Story Walk.
The ongoing program pieces out a children’s book onto stands around the gardens where visitors can walk up and read them as they make their way around the grounds.
The current book is “Best in Snow” by April Pulley Sayre, a book that pairs winter scenes of snow with short captions, according to Chuck Pieri, Branch Children’s Librarian.
“Beautiful prose, it’s talking about the different types of snows,” said Pieri.
According to Wellfield Gardens Visitors Cottage Manager Nina Cunningham, the program has been a successful partnership between the library and the gardens.
“It’s been really successful, the way that we’ve been able to measure that is that the books we order for the shop have sold out,” she said.
She noted that the books have been re-ordered and that all three of the books from Story Walk, “Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story” by Will Hillenbrand,”Shh! We Have a Plan” and author-signed copies of “Best in Snow,” are all available at the Vistors Cottage.
“We’ve really enjoyed the collaboration with the library,” Cunningham said. “I feel like we’ve really taken it to the next level with the storyboards.”
The library and Wellfield have also worked together on the summertime Stories in the Gardens program and the Little Sprouts program.
She said that “Best in Snow” will remain up at least through the end of the year and during the garden’s new Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Show, which runs from through Dec. 30.
Wellfield Gardens is a non-profit created with help from the Elkhart Rotary Club on land leased from the City of Elkhart. The 36-acre site comprised of 25 themed gardens, event space and more. For more information visit their website.
Sandy Caldwell wanted to read the Bible to children at her church and she wanted to stop depending on her family members to do things for her.
The problem for the 57-year-old Elkhart resident was that she couldn’t read, she had never learned how.
Caldwell says that her parents meant well when they pulled her out of kindergarten to home school her, but they couldn’t offer her the help she needed.
“They said I was too slow, they didn’t have a program for me to be in,” she said. “Their protection hurt me now more than it would have (to go to school).”
Deep down, she said she always wanted to learn and she knew she could, but she just didn’t know where to start.
She contacted Horizon Education Alliance where she eventually landed with volunteer tutor Beth Suderman, who started bringing Caldwell to the Osolo Branch for weekly lessons.
Starting from the beginning with phonetics and the alphabet, Suderman has Caldwell reading at a beginner level.
“Little by little, we piece it together,” said Suderman.
Last November Caldwell finally signed up for her first library card.
“I had made it, it took me long enough but I had made it,” she said.
The library has been a safe place for her to study and work, she said. The staff have been friendly and encouraged her when she felt stuck. She said she would practice reading to them and some of them would tear up.
“It’s been real good, they cheer me on,” Caldwell said. “Some of them cry.”
Caldwell said that since she only gets out of the house for church and her weekly lessons, she uses her library card to check out books and movies that help her in her reading lessons.
Earlier this year, Caldwell finally read to a Sunday school class at her church, Riverview General Baptist Church, sharing the story of Jesus calming the storm.
Now, the two are working on the Christmas story, Luke 2: 1-20, for the upcoming holiday season.
Caldwell says she still struggles with some of the words but knows that it will come. She also wants people to know that it’s never too late to start learning.
“I don’t care if you’re 80, you can still learn,” she said.
The Helping Hands mats program enters it second phase Saturday with a help session for those working on their mats.
Helping Hands teaches attendees how to crochet plastic bags into mats for the homeless in the Elkhart County area.
Saturday, Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. EPL will have help on hand for any questions for those making mats. Materials to make more plastic yarn will be available but it will not be pre-cut, according to Rachel Rice, outreach coordinator for the library.
The session will be at the downtown library, 300 S. Second St., Elkhart.
The completed mats are to be returned to the library by Dec. 2 for distribution.
The mats are multipurpose and are highly requested by the homeless, according to Debby Applegate, senior administrator with Michiana Five for the Homeless. The group will be helping the library distribute the mats.
The program is made possible with funding from the Friends of Elkhart Public Library.
“They provide several functions, obviously they sleep on them, they are washable, you can rinse them off or wipe them off and they are lightweight,” she said.
The mats provide cushioning against sidewalks and other rough surfaces that homeless often have to sleep on.
The mats require hundreds of plastic bags and can be time consuming to make, but Applegate said that they are so important to those living on the streets.
“It’s something they very definitely need,” she said. “Unfortunately there are still people out on the streets, in the woods and with winter coming up we’re gearing up for our big winter giveaway of supplies.”
The mats are a great way to get rid of a product that often fills up landfills and allows those with a creative side to help out those in need, she said.
“Everybody has tons of these plastic bags, it’s something so simple and it can make a difference between life and death in some case,” Applegate said.
“There are so many people that are talented and crafty, here’s something you can do to help others that need it.”