By: CHRISTINA CLARK
The Veterans Book Club will be hosting a meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in Fireside. Editor of “See Me for Who I Am”, David Chrisinger, will facilitate the meeting.
Chrisinger, a communication and veteran transition specialist, compiled the book from his students’ writings in his class on veteran reintegration at the University of Wisconsin Steven Point.
This book in particular was chosen by the Veterans Book Club for many reasons as the process to find a book has many factors to consider.
“Students don’t have that much time to read, so I try to find books where you might not have to read the whole thing cover to cover, and so this one has different short stories,” said Vicki Bloom, dean of Library Services at the IU South Bend Franklin D. Schurz Library. “When we did a book of short stories last year we really focused on a couple of them to talk about. This book is also written by students, and I think that’s a really critical part of this. We want students to read each other’s work. This is a published book and it’s doing very well.”
Bloom tries to find books that incorporate a unique perspective that is relatable, and that have elements of humor or silliness, so that the choices don’t take on a depressing tone.
Bloom met Chrisinger last year at the Student Veterans Organization Midwest Regional Conference hosted at IUSB.
“He [Chrisinger] was one of the speakers and he was really interesting. He mentioned that he had written a book, and I asked to talk to him and asked him to facilitate our book club meeting. That’s how this book got chosen,” said Bloom.
The Veterans Book Club began a year ago to help bridge the gap in understanding veterans’ needs and experiences.
“Three or four years ago some students came to the Academic Cabinet, which is the Cabinet of Deans, and they really spoke about how student vets’ needs weren’t being met, and it really struck me. I mean it really hit home to me, so I sort of took up that cause. Some [veterans] have seen combat. Some haven’t, but it’s a very scheduled world that they live in, so when they come to campus a lot, some aren’t used to it or they feel very alienated. So there is that, and some of them are a little bit older. Some have different world experiences,” said Bloom.
The Veterans Book Club isn’t just for veterans themselves, however. The book club is open to students, faculty and staff, community members and all walks of life.
“The other part of the book club is really for students and others who are interested in learning more about our vets, what they go through and what their lives are like and how they approach the world,” said Bloom.
Bloom mentioned that all veterans have a different experience, from South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s experience going from being catered to in the mayor’s office to scrubbing toilets on his knees while on duty. A woman who comes to the club who works at Notre Dame as well as being in the reserves, being a mother and being married to a physician who is also in the reserves, to a student veteran who doesn’t have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and feels stigmatized for their lack of trauma as well.
The book club is “a way of opening the dialogue,” said Bloom.
RSVPs are encouraged, and can be completed by emailing Rhonda Culbertson at firstname.lastname@example.org, and those interested in a free copy of the chosen book may email email@example.com.