A Salem State professor is asking the public to spend time this Veterans Day learning about the experiences and struggles of student veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Andrew Darien, PhD, a professor of history, has been working with students in his oral history courses for the past decade to record video interviews with student veterans. Today, he is launching a website that allows the public to view and learn from these conversations.
“When I first came to Salem State in 2004 there were far too few conversations about the origins, experience, and execution of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Darien. “Furthermore the service of our student veterans remained largely invisible to their fellow students, professors, and the rest of the college community. As an oral historian, this seemed an apt moment to record their experiences and perspectives to facilitate greater dialogue with the civilian population.”
In 2007, Darien began training students in his oral history seminar to interview veterans about their military journeys from enlistment to boot camp to deployment and back to civilian life. Today, those interviews are available at salemveterans.com, where viewers can learn about topics as wide-ranging as combat, training, camaraderie, mental health, and the role of women in the military.
“What you will find when you listen to these veteran students is a kaleidoscope of perspectives and experiences from across the political spectrum. There is no one universal veteran,” said Darien. “My hope is that civilians will take a few minutes this Veterans Day to listen to the diversity of experiences in our modern military and challenge some stereotypes about the men and women who serve in it.”