Many combat veterans say that the difficulty of talking about their war experiences is compounded by friends and family members who are worried about offending or disrespecting them. The resulting silence can leave the veteran feeling alone in a society that does not understand. The goal of the Standing Together initiative in Kansas is to spark a dialogue about one of our nation’s defining experiences and the importance of community in the homecoming experiences of our returning soldiers. KHC invited Kansans to participate in Standing Together through program and grant initiatives, such as:
THE BIG READ: THE THINGS THEY CARRIED
Community book discussions focused on Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a book of connected short stories that follow the men of Alpha company before, during, and after the Vietnam War. As part of this initiative, KHC awarded $14,420 in The Things They Carried Home grants to 17 organizations with local contributions estimated at $25,803. Four organizations also received Preservation Project Grants to preserve, document, and create access to military artifacts and archival materials. Additionally, 13 organizations received $300 grants to host community workshops, led by a preservation consultant, to help veterans and their families preserve uniforms, medals, letters, photographs, email correspondence, and other important items that soldiers carried home.