Hickory – Redhawk Publications is honored to release a collection of stories written by US military veterans, “Brothers and Sisters Like These.” A total of 36 veterans shared over seventy stories, both in prose and poetry form, based on their experiences while serving in the military. Ms. Elizabeth Heaney, LPC, was the Writer in Residence who helped the veterans write their stories, while Ms. Tessa Fontaine was the editor who prepared the selected stories for publishing.Redhawk Publications Announces

Project director, Ron Toler (USAF – Retired) explained, “This is actually the second published anthology written by those that had served in the US Military. Back in 2014, a group of veterans gathered at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville to participate in a creative writing program, and it resulted in the first published collection entitled, “Brothers Like These.” The idea was to get the guys to write about their shared experiences either in the service or when they processed out. Writing gave them a voice, an opportunity to share their experiences with folks that had gone through the same challenges, and even provided an opportunity to heal in some way.”

Dr. Bruce Kelly, primary care physician at the Asheville VA Medical Center, was at the forefront of creating the writing initiative. Kelly points out as a physician taking care of veterans, “I came to the VA as a Primary Care physician in 2011 knowing little about military culture, and nothing of the experience of combat. It didn’t take long to realize how many of the Vietnam veterans in my care were still carrying wounds from their time in country.”

In addition to Dr. Kelly, former North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti, a Professor at Appalachian State University, took the lead as the first Writer in Residence and has spent ten years leading writing workshops for veterans across the state. “As I met this group of extraordinary veterans, at the Asheville VA, I quickly began to understand the importance of their being able to tell their stories in a safe, non-judgmental setting,” said Bathanti. “It’s especially important to stress that what happened at the Asheville VA was absolutely not about Bruce and me, but about those men (and, by extension, their families) from NC mountain counties, who had literally stayed silent and tortured about their service in Vietnam, and the cruel reception they received upon return to the U.S., before they opened up on paper.”

A result of the first anthology was the creation of the 501 (c) (3) non-profit, The NC Veterans Writing Alliance Foundation. It was formed to continue the unique writing program which now includes all veterans, men and women, from all conflicts, including Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

“Brothers and Sisters Like These” is the most recent published collection which includes women’s voices as well. “We realized we were missing our sisters’ voices, and so this second go-round, women were very much apart of the writing project,” said Toler. “All proceeds from the book will go toward continuing writing workshops for veterans. Our main expense is paying our Writer in Residence to lead the classes.”

Redhawk Publications Executive Director, Richard Eller, expressed that, “publishing this collection of writings by our military veterans is one of the most powerful books we have published to date. Knowing that it has helped our veterans with healing, and that their words are being shared with society, it is simply transformative. These stories show the therapeutic aspect of writing.”

To learn more about the NC Veterans Writing Alliance Foundation and to purchase the book, visit: https://brothersandsisterslikethese.com/

Redhawk Publications is an artistic initiative of the Catawba Valley Community College, publishing written works of interest for the local community, the state of North Carolina, as well as the entire United States. Established in 2017, CVCC is the only N.C. community college with a publishing press offering over 100 titles to date. For additional information on Redhawk Publications, visit our website at https://redhawkpublications.com, or contact Patty Thompson at [email protected].

The public is welcome to see the veteran’s writing group share their stories live on the Leiman Mainstage at the Flat Rock Playhouse on Sunday January 29th in Flat Rock, NC. Tickets will be sold the day-of at the playhouse for $20 and proceeds go to support the Blue Ridge Honor Flight.