Lithgow, an English professor at UNC, said group members will read war literature and share thoughts on both war literature and their own war experiences.
“It’s important to create an opportunity for veterans to get together to talk about anything,” Lithgow said.
“Literature is kind of an excuse. One of the things that makes arts important is that there is a way for people to kind of reflect on their thoughts and experiences.”
The group could be helpful for veterans because they face challenges when trying to re-adapt to civilian life, said Yuschok, a psychiatrist at the Durham Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center.
“Military culture is different from civilian life,” she said. “And people need to adjust to a different pace and timing and relationships.”
Yuschok said she will serve as a guide for the group, helping the veterans find medical help if needed and helping to create the group’s reading curriculum. She said that for some veterans, problems might emerge from the discussions, including intense emotions, intrusive memories and grief.
“Sometimes people have avoided thinking about what they’ve gone through,” she said. “There might be some intense emotion that they pushed aside while they were in the battlefield.”
Howell, a ten-year veteran of the N.C. National Guard and the founder of the group, said he doesn’t expect much negative emotion to come from the discussions.