WestConn invites public to listen to untold stories of soldiers

DANBURY, CONN. — They are our brothers and sisters; they are our fellow students; and they are our neighbors. Yet the voices of veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are quiet. And most of their stories have not been heard.

On April 14 and 15, Western Connecticut State University will host “Veterans’ Voices,” a writing conference and workshop that will focus on these veterans and their powerful stories. At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, the public is invited to a screening of “Jarhead,” in the Student Center Theater on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. The 2005 film, based on U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford’s 2003 award-winning Gulf War memoir of the same name, is directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes and stars Jake Gyllenhaal.

At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15, the public is invited to a reading and discussion with Swofford at the Student Center Theater. The event is free.

“As a society we know we are at war,” said Elizabeth Cohen, assistant professor of writing, linguistics and creative process, “but we don’t really experience the sounds or textures of this fact. The experience of the average solider is untold and unrecognized. And that silence cheats us.”

The idea for the event came after Cohen and Lynn Paris-Purtle, who also teaches writing at the university, read essays written by their veteran students. “They were so moving and powerful,” Cohen said. “It was clear that these students had a very strong desire to communicate what they had been through, seen and experienced.

“This is our chance to hear their stories,” said Cohen. “And an opportunity for veterans to tell them.”

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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