VCU professor to host veteran storytelling group

Carver Weakley. Courtesy of VCU Department of Focused Inquiry

Chip Lauterbach
Contributing Writer


Members of VCU’s veteran community will have the opportunity to share their  experiences through storytelling thanks to the efforts of a professor in VCU’s Department of Focused Inquiry.

Through “More Than War,” Carver Weakley plans to gather a group of VCU students with a military background and, through a series of several workshops, help participants craft stories of their experiences — including combat, returning home, transition, family and navigating life as a veteran. Storytellers are invited to speak for five to seven minutes.

Weakley’s friend, who currently serves in the military, inspired the idea for the project. Air Force Technical Sgt. Swift Moon showed her a 2013 article published in The Washington Post written by author, journalist and filmmaker Sebastian Junger titled “U.S. veterans need to share the moral burden of war.”

Carver Weakley. Courtesy of VCU Department of Focused Inquiry

“It was a very powerful article and it got me thinking about how our society has compartmentalized the work that service members do overseas and the burdens they carry both abroad and when they return home,” Weakley said. “It is our responsibility, those of us here at home, to invite our friends and loved ones with combat experience to share with us so that we can help them carry that load.”

Moon — who is about to leave on his eighth combat deployment — has served in the Air Force for 17 years as an explosives ordnance disposal technician, and was candid about Weakley’s project.

“Everything I did over there stuck with me and it sunk into this idea of a shared moral responsibility for war,” Moon said. “Besides, everyone who has served has some either amazing or hilarious stories about their service.”

After thinking it over, Weakley came up with a way for student veterans to unload and share their burdens. She forged a partnership with the Department of Focused Inquiry and Military Student Services, planning for a storytelling event to happen in late November.

Weakley said VCU students are encouraged to attend to further their understanding of the veteran experience.

Interested veterans and students can submit story ideas to Weakley via email at [email protected] by Oct. 29.  Selected participants will be notified no later than Nov. 2 and information about the workshops taking place before the event will be shared at that time. A final date and location for “More Than War” has not been decided, but will be announced soon.

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