January 12, 2020 at 9:58 am

NEH Reports on Success of ‘Coming Home from War’ Project at Ohio University

Dialogues of War grant graphic from the National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities reports on the success of “Coming Home from War: Conversations for Veterans in Southern Ohio and the Appalachian Region,” a humanities-based program for veterans at Ohio University and in the community, noting that veterans found it a safe place for thoughtful exploration about their experiences.

Ohio University’s Contemporary History Institute designed the program 2018-19 with an $73,938 NEH to explore the effects of combat experiences—from coping with killing to survivor’s guilt; reintegration into society; coping with trauma, injuries, and disabilities; and coming home to an economically stressed region.

The program brought together veterans and service members to reflect on their service, war, and homecoming experiences through conversations about humanities sources (film, fiction, poetry, theater).

Dr. Ingo Trauschweizer, Professor of History and Director of the Contemporary History Institute, with the help of Dr. Nukhet Sandal, Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science, and David Edwards, director of the Veterans and Military Student Services Center, assembled a team of 10 Ohio University faculty members and two external consultants. Together they prepared a group of OHIO students to lead conversation groups with veterans, who could be students or members of the Athens or regional communities, in the spring term.

On Feb. 2, 2019, the institute also hosted a screening of Ajax, a 2,000-year-old Greek tragedy by Sophocles that resonated with contemporary veterans’ experiences.

The NEH report Discussing War with Ohio Veterans notes:

  • 100 percent of respondents found the group “a safe and supportive place for discussion.”
  • 94 percent agreed that the program “invited [them] to think about issues related to military service [they] had not considered.”
  • 97 percent of public program participants felt “more confident about taking part in thoughtful discussion about war.”

The Dialogues on the Experience of War grant program was created in 2015 as part of the NEH Standing Together initiative, which emphasizes the innovative ways in which the humanities can engage military veterans and communities.

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