NHA on the Hill: Showcasing How the Humanities Serve Veterans

On December 11, the National Humanities Alliance partnered with Jefferson Community College (JCC) to highlight how the NEH’s Dialogues on the Experience of War programs serve veterans. The showcase-style briefing included a discussion with leaders of and participants in JCC’s 2018 program. Representatives Chellie Pingree, David Price, Elise Stefanik, and Steve Stivers served as honorary co-hosts of the event.

JCC’s program took the form of a semester-long team-taught course attended by student veterans. In addition to providing books and other supplies for the students, NEH funding helped faculty undertake intensive training in veterans issues and supported a trip to Gettysburg and Washington, D.C. for both faculty and students. The program took place in both Fall 2018 and Fall 2019, involving two cohorts of students.

In opening remarks, JCC president Ty Stone framed her college’s program as a significant step forward in serving student veterans and noted that its collaborative model, which involved faculty from across the disciplines, could serve as a framework to help address other issues students face. Following her remarks, I sat down with Ronald Palmer, professor of history, Craig McNamara, director of the Advising Center and Student Services, and Stephanie Eriacho, a student, veteran, and program participant to discuss their experiences with the program.

Ron and Craig emphasized changes on campus that have occurred as a result of the program. For instance, the training in veterans issues has helped faculty support both the Dialogues participants and the broader student population. JCC, which is located in Watertown, New York, is near Fort Drum and serves a large number of veterans. Stephanie, who served in the military for 15 years and was deployed 12 times, spoke about the program’s wide-ranging effects on her own life, including being able to reflect on her own experiences, build a support network in Watertown, and connect with her family. 

As our speakers demonstrated, NEH funding for Dialogues programs offers veterans powerful experiences to reflect on their service and build community by engaging with humanities texts, including literature and film. We are grateful for their partnership and the opportunity to showcase their work!


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