Some of their stories are harrowing and heroic; others, in comparison, may feel relatively ordinary. But all detail service to their country. After interviewing more than 20 veterans of the United States military, Sonoma State University students are giving a performance of these veterans' stories in "America at War" on Monday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. in Schroeder Hall at the university's Green Music Center.
The veterans interviewed by the students served in military conflicts from World War II to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mark Weston, a Forestville nurse, is a Purple Heart recipient. As part of the 101st Airborne Division, Weston served in Vietnam in 1969, where he was wounded in the battle for Ap Bia Mountain, known to most Americans as "Hamburger Hill."
Injuries sustained in that firefight ended Weston's deployment in Vietnam, but the mental recovery took longer. He wouldn't speak at length about his service for a decade after he returned to the United States. As the first veteran the students interviewed, Weston helped train them to ask better questions and to recognize that there were some parts of veterans' stories that may never be understood.
Irwing Lazo was also interviewed by students for the project. Lazo, who immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua, served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Iraq war. After his return to the United States, he earned a history degree from Sonoma State. He now returns to share his stories with students for this project.
Students are not just conducting interviews, but are also tasked with turning the stories from the interviews into dramatic performances. This event is free and open to the public, and Sonoma State encourages veterans and their families to attend. Following the dramatic performance is a audience Q&A session with a panel of students and veterans. "America at War" takes place Monday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. The event is free and tickets are not required.
'Hummingbird Wars' Brings PTSD to the Stage with Satire
"The Hummingbird Wars" is on stage in Ives 76, Thursday-Sunday through Nov. 15. Student tickets are free, others are $10-$17. Playwright Carter Lewis comes from the University of St. Louis to speak before the play at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 in Ives 76. Visit Theater and Dance for more information and tickets.
Here's what the Press Democrat's Robert Digitale has to say about the play:
"Sonoma State University's 'The Hummingbird Wars' lets us watch how an Afghan war veteran copes as the lives of his wife, son and daughter spin increasingly out of control.
"Isn't the vet supposed to be the one suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? But Warren, a dad and a decorated war hero, seems more adept than most men at holding himself together under life's pressures. One minute he's managing to avoid tension with his politically active law professor wife. The next he's agreeing to let his daughter's heavily medicated girlfriend move in with the family. And after that he remains steady and calm while trying to ascertain why his son took a loaded gun to high school."
Read the full story in the Press Democrat.
Benefits for Veterans on Campus
Student veterans can stop by the Veterans Affairs office (Student Center, 3rd floor) and staff/faculty veterans can visit the Human Resources Office (Salazar Hall, 2nd floor) to pick up a veteran discount card. With this card, veterans will be able to take advantage of the following benefits Nov. 9-15:
• Free usage of the Campus Recreation Center
• Free inMotion classes
• Free bike maintenance (except parts)
• Free outdoor equipment rental up to $50
• Free registration to the Napa Valley Turkey Trot
• 50 percent off campus culinary services (excludes alcohol) at Charlie Brown's, The Kitchens, Lobo's, Overlook, Sip, Toast and W&B
• 15 percent off apparel, gifts and/or supplies at the Campus Bookstore