Every Tuesday for the past seven weeks, veterans - mostly from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - have gathered at Boston College in Newton, Mass. for a writing workshop.
They came at the bequest of Roxana von Kraus, the mother of an active Marine who found that writing helped her cope with her son's deployment. She's is helping these veterans put on paper their war experiences, as well as write about the difficulty of coming home and transitioning back to civilian life.
"It's important for all the veterans to go through this writing because it's more than therapy," von Kraus told Here & Now's Robin Young. "It gets you though pain and it brings you to light."
Von Kraus and three of the veterans in her writing group shared these stories with us:
____By: Roxana von Kraus____
I love you Brian
January 17, 2003 California: Thousands of Marines have left San Diego today, for the “possible” war in Iraq. My son is one of them. A first lieutenant in the 1st Marine Division. He is twenty-four years old and has thirty-four Marines under his command. (Read the whole story here)
A Romanian Story
It was still communist Romania then. We shared the small apartment with cousins, aunts and complete unknowns. Life as usual. And I was seven years old, with short bangs and knee high white socks embroidered by someone. (Read the whole story here)
____By: Giselle Sterling____
Agape Timed Prompt
See, in the Marine Corps they teach you about the little things — the details. They’re real animals about it. Always barking. Because if you can’t measure the quarter inch space of uniform between your ribbons and your badges, then you can’t measure the clicks it takes to BZO your rifle. (Read the whole story here)
My Children Are Grown
My children are grown and they have stopped speaking to me. My oldest has done this to me before. When she was twelve and I read her journal. She wanted me to read her journal. She was so proud of it and wanted me to see why. Her teachers were proud of it too. (Read the whole story here)
____By: Lauren K. Johnson____
On the Western Front
My grandfather and I were fighting separate wars. I was oblivious to his while I jostled over rugged mountain passes in military vehicles; while I grumbled about long hours, bad food, and the sandbag I kept tripping over on my walk to the bathroom. He was anything but oblivious to mine. (Read the whole story here)
A Rock Called Afghanistan
Somehow, I had missed the fan-screaming, media-barraged, gossip-infused, multi-platinum rise of two of my generation’s most iconic performers. Obviously, I had been living under a rock. A rock called Afghanistan. I had lived under it, or around it, in a secluded training environment, for 349 days. (Read the whole story here)
____By: Van Christo____
My ship is torpedoed by a Japanese “Betty” bomber during WWII
I was born in Albania and brought to America when I was a year old, so, I didn’t have an American birth certificate, I wanted to join the Navy at age 16 during WWII, after badgering my father, my father, Piro, he swore before a Notary Public that I was 17 1/2 the minimum age to join the Navy. (Read the whole story here)
The U.S.S.Chaffee/DE 230, the ship on which I served during World War II was anchored in Bunckner Bay, Okinawa, when it was announced over the PA System that the Japanese had surrendered. The sounds of Hooray! sounded everywhere on the ship-above and below decks. (Read the whole story here)
- Roxana von Kraus, leader of the veterans' writing workshop at Boston College and mother of a Marine.
- Bethany Marullo, former Army captain who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with her husband Joe Marullo, also a former Army captain.
- Giselle Sterling, former Marine sergeant and veteran of Afghanistan.
- Lauren K. Johnson, served as a military public affairs officer.
- Van Christo, veteran of the Pacific campaign in World War II.
This segment aired on December 25, 2012.