March 06, 2015

Programs to look at military/civilian relations

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A new initiative at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will explore the complexities of the relationship between civilian and military life. 

“Soldiers Among Us” is designed to bring members of the campus community and the community at large together for readings, films and discussions. A steering committee led by James S. Allen, associate provost for academic programs, has been meeting to plan an inaugural series of events for later this month. 

“We hope to highlight the important questions of what we all owe our veterans, but also what we all owe our military that depends upon a supportive civilian society,” Allen said. “We want to ensure that the campus community and friends and neighbors throughout the region gain a better understanding of what our men and women in uniform -- past, present and future -- contribute to a civilian society with an all-volunteer military.” 

SIU has a long history of support for active-duty military and student veterans. Through its Veterans Center, the university offers a variety of services to the 700 student-veterans enrolled, including: veteran tutors, recognition for graduation and academic excellence, Veterans’ Administration personnel through the “Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership” and chaplains programs, an annual Sept. 11 “Run to Remember” program, and military culture and veteran ally training for faculty and staff. In addition, the university has long been home to Air Force and Army ROTC detachments. 

Here is the schedule of “Soldiers Among Us” events: 

March 25, 6-7:30 p.m., Carbondale Public Library: Paul Copeland, coordinator of Veterans Services at SIU and member of the steering committee, will facilitate a panel and audience discussion of two readings. One is an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times, “After War, A Failure of the Imagination,” by Phil Klay. The other is “The Veteran,” by Stephen Crane, available here

The event is an extension of a book group that met monthly from October through February, allowing veterans to connect with one another, build relationships and share their experiences. The Illinois Humanities Council and The Haven Veterans Center near Carbondale sponsored the book group, and the SIU Veterans Center also was among the partners. 

March 27, 4:30-6 p.m., Communications Building Room 1032: “Redeployment: Performances and Reflections by SIU Student-Vet Artist-Scholars.” Chris Parr, a former Army Reserve mental health counselor and staff member in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, will facilitate a panel discussion. Participants will include Jonathan Mabee, a veteran and master of fine arts student in the college, who will screen “Missing Silence” (available at and read a selected portion of the script for a film now in production; and Carlye Schweske, a doctoral student in communication and performance studies, who will share performance pieces emerging from her research on the experiences of student-veterans at SIU. 

March 30, 4-5:30 p.m., Communications Building Room 1032: “On Sexual Assault in the Military.” There will be a screening of selected portions of “The Invisible War,” followed by panel and open discussions. A winner of Peabody and Emmy awards, the Oscar-nominated documentary focuses on how the military handles sexual assault within its ranks. Participants will include Lt. Col. Matt Gooding, professor of military science for the Army ROTC detachment at SIU; doctoral student Carlye Schweske, and a staff member from the VA Medical Center in Marion. 

In addition to Allen, Copeland and Gooding, members of the “Soldiers Among Us” steering committee include: Peter Lemish, instructor, School of Journalism; Jonathan Bean, history professor; Matt Bacon, assistant director of academic program development in the registrar’s office; and Lt. Col. Craig Hansen, adjunct professor of aerospace studies and commander of SIU’s Air Force ROTC detachment.