The adjustment for American veterans returning from war (depicted brilliantly by The Best Years of Our Lives after World War II and Coming Home and Born on the Fourth of July after the Vietnam War) extends to their families. Irvington-based telecommunications consultant Julia Rust watched how memories from World War II affected her late father David Rust in “the way he moved, the way he drove, and who he was,” and that led her and Veterans Writing Workshop (VWW) director David Surface to initiate writing workshops for family members in 2014. “I participated in the first one–the reading was held at the White Plains Public Library–and I learned a lot by writing about my dad,” she says.
In 2015, VWW and Family Services of Westchester held their first joint workshop at the Library. The second workshop last year was well-attended, and there will be a third 10-week program here on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. beginning on March 19.
“Each workshop has been terrific,” says Rust. “Much of the writing was compelling and passionate, and the feedback I received included thank yous ‘for making it possible for veterans and loved ones to have a means and a safe space to tell our stories and share them around the world' and ‘for the benefits of the writing extending to all who are exposed to it [through writing, reading or hearing the stories] in real and often surprising ways.’
“The consensus, as one participant said, was that the ‘workshop was a wonderful experience.'”
At the upcoming workshop's conclusion on June 25, the participants’ writing will be published in an attractive print anthology, and they will have the opportunity to share their experiences at a public reading. In addition, VWW has begun to create an archive of veterans’ and family members’ stories on video.
This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.