For many Americans, Veterans Day is an all too rare invitation to consider the sacrifices made by those who have served in the armed forces. Many have noted that the all-volunteer nature of today’s professional military, representing less than 1 percent of Americans, has deepened the civilian-military divide. The fact that a majority of volunteers come from military families only exaggerates the issue; a growing number of Americans have no direct link to the military.
“I can see how important this work is to our communities.”
- Representative Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.
Time and again, Members of Congress have told us that they need to better understand the impact of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) on their districts so that they can prioritize the humanities among other needs. In order to foster this understanding, we have begun collaborating on a series of district-based conversations aimed at providing a forum for NEH grantees to share their stories.
In October we celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month, and this week we join forces with Americans for the Arts to feature the extensive arts and humanities programming that serves our nation’s veterans. In a recent post, we briefly traced the expansion of NEH programs for veterans over the last decade, highlighting the therapeutic benefits of bringing veterans together to discuss literature about war and share their stories. Many of these Dialogues on the Experience of War programs also provide veterans with opportunities to experiment with a wide variety of artistic and literary techniques for expressing themselves.
It’s National Arts and Humanities Month, and today we are joining forces with Americans for the Arts to illuminate the ways that the arts and humanities can work together to cultivate community. Tastefully South Jersey, a program that celebrated the diverse culinary traditions of Burlington, Gloucester, and Camden counties this past summer, is a perfect example of how the arts and humanities can help a community explore the breadth and depth of its cultural heritage. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts, and New Jersey’s state councils for the arts and humanities, the Perkins Center for the Arts hosted an engaging temporary exhibition and extensive public programming.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) supports humanities research through a number of grant lines, among them fellowships and summer stipends for researchers and the Public Scholar program. These grants, which typically result in a published book or article, often have effects that reverberate far beyond the individual grant product.
Each summer, the National Endowment for the Humanities offers seminar and institute programs for K–12 teachers, providing educators from across the country with the chance to engage deeply in humanities subject matter and establish peer networks. These one- to four-week programs are hosted by universities, state historical societies, and other cultural institutions and cover a variety of subjects.
In early August, the NEH awarded $43.1 million in grants to humanities projects across the nation. The announcement, which included $13.2 million for Cultural Infrastructure Challenge Grants, underscored the NEH’s long-term investment in the brick-and-mortar of humanities institutions; its consistent investments in outstanding humanities organizations across the country; and its commitment to new ideas, communities, and organizations.
For over a decade, the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) and the state and territorial humanities councils funded by the NEH have provided unique services to the veteran community through a variety of interactive, community-building programs throughout the country. The NEH began employing the humanities to address the challenges veterans face through the Literature and Medicine programs held at VA hospitals and the Talking Service program established in partnership with the Great Books Foundation in 2012. In 2014, former NEH Chairman William Adams, a Vietnam veteran, expanded these efforts, launching Standing Together: Humanities and the Experience of War. The initiative increased funding for veteran-related projects across all NEH divisions and established the Dialogues on the Experience of War program, which gathers veterans together around literature, films, and reflective writing exercises that explore the journey from home to the battlefield and back. Since 2016, the NEH has sponsored 47 Dialogues in 21 states. Here at the National Humanities Alliance, as part of our NEH for All initiative, we’re researching past and future Dialogues programs to better understand their impact on veterans and their communities.
In 2016, the University of Maryland (UMD) and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to host a program entitled “100 Years of American Women in Uniform” for women veterans. “100 Years” is the first of NEH’s Dialogues on the Experience of War programs to focus specifically on women veterans. Thirty-eight women veterans from 10 states and Washington, D.C. participated in the program, which spanned four weekends. Participants engaged a wide variety of materials from a century of women’s military history--including diaries, documents, photos, scrapbooks, and artifacts from the Smithsonian collection. They enjoyed expert-led sessions, including several reflective writing exercises. And they learned how to contribute their own and other veterans’ stories to the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.