February 08, 2012

Expert to discuss issues facing returning veterans

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Nancy Sherman’s father was a veteran of World War II, and though he never talked with her about it, he wore his dogtags for 65 years.  She always wished, she said, that she could help him carry the burden of his memories.

Sherman, a nationally recognized expert in moral philosophy and military ethics, visits Southern Illinois University Carbondale this month to discuss, “The Moral Cost of War: Shame, Guilt and Self-Empathy.”  Her talk begins at 7 p.m. on Feb. 15 in Student Center Ballroom D.  She is a featured speaker in The Humanities Forum, themed this year on “Trauma and the Humanities.”

Sherman is the author of “The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds and Souls of our Soldiers,” a book named an “Editor’s Choice” by the New York Times, and a Book Pick of the Week by Time Magazine.  She described her book as her “best effort at allowing soldiers to open up their hearts and tell their stories.”

Sherman is professor of philosophy at Georgetown University and a Fellow of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.  She has also taught at Yale University, and teaches at Georgetown University’s Law Center as well.  She also served as Distinguished Chair in Ethics at the U.S. Naval Academy.  She served as observer and adviser to the military on the medical and psychological condition of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.

“She’s really the central figure to bring to campus if we want to talk seriously about the ethics of welcoming veterans and how everyone can contribute to that moral imperative,” Andrew Youpa, associate professor of philosophy and a director of The Humanities Forum that spearheaded Sherman’s visit to campus.

“I think she can speak to the sort of attitude shifts we all need to perform so that we’re not just asking veterans to ‘reacclimatize’ themselves, or pretend their combat experience didn’t happen,” he said.

“The question of dealing with trauma issues faced by our returning veterans is a huge issue now -- and will be for the rest of our lives,” David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, an event co-sponsor, said.  “Paying for the cost of treatment, and deciding which treatments are best will face policy makers.   We’re happy to support this initiative because it calls attention to the problem and brings some diverse and interesting perspectives to the topic.”

Sherman’s visit is the result of cooperation by many offices and departments on campus.  The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute included Sherman in its spring 2012 speakers schedule, and offered support and funding to help bring Sherman here.

Additional sponsors include: Office of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, University Honors Program, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, Veterans Center, Departments of Philosophy and English, Undergraduate Student Government, Graduate and Professional Student Council, Eta Sigma Phi, Philosophy Club and the Carbondale Public Library.