ACC Library Services was excited to participate in Read Across Texas: The Veteran Experience, a statewide reading program which was sponsored by the Texas Center for the Book. Read Across Texas encouraged communities to engage in tough but important conversations that surround the story of those who have bravely served our country and about what happens when these veterans come home.
ACC Library Services had Mark Harden of the ACC Veteran Resource Center and Brad Robichaux of ACC’s Department of Veteran Affairs as veteran partners and the Round Rock Public Library as a community partner. Together we offered opportunities for these special conversations to take place; resources were identified by the Center for the Book to help facilitate these important discussions.
The program took place throughout February 2017 in the Veterans Resource Center, located at 6001 Airport Blvd. in Austin, Texas, adjacent to the ACC Highland Campus. Attendees participated in discussions on Mark Harden’s book, Losing Mogadishu, with commentaries from Brad Robichaux and other veteran attendees. The second book discussion was Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
ACC Library Services enlisted the assistance of Kori Jones, who teaches veterans and their families deep breathing relaxation exercises as a good way of relaxing when feeling stressed or panicked. ACC counselors also attended the event to share in this experience. In this collaborative effort to bridge years of mystery surrounding the veteran experience, and to combat misunderstandings and misconceptions, we invited and encouraged participation by faculty, staff, and students of ACC and community members.
Here are some of the comments of our participants:
Author, Mark Harden - I think the program was excellent. I was very moved by the compassion for veterans that all of our participants brought to the sessions. I've always thought libraries to be inviting places free from the distractions of the outside world, sanctuaries so to speak wherein our returning veterans can learn and sometimes heal.
Veteran and Professor Sharon H. Frederick - "The Read Across Texas" is an excellent opportunity to not only connect with community resources with the Veteran's needs a priority but also the sharing of other fellow Veterans' experiences in their own voices - outside of the medical realm in group therapy sessions/counseling."
ACC Counselor Howard Sharp - Read Across Texas helped me to understand more deeply the challenges that veterans faced during their service, their appreciation of community, honesty, and loyalty, and their desire to be understood authentically. By combining reading with interpersonal group discussion, Read Across Texas strengthened connections between veterans and the college faculty and staff who serve them. Additionally, this valuable program will help veterans feel more supported in college life and more likely to achieve their academic, career and personal goals.
Community Representative and Recreational Therapist Kori Jones - "I am so grateful to have participated in the Read Across Texas Program. Books are such wonderful vehicles for dialogue, and I found the interaction with Veterans very insightful. In our current culture there are many perceptions and expectations regarding our military, it is important to foster interaction and connection to those who serve to defend our safety and our freedom. "