Community Conversations with Veterans Toolkit

Last Updated by California Center for the Book: 07/20/2020

Community Conversations with Veterans is a partnership between California Center for the Book and Veterans Connect @ the Library. The initiative offers California libraries the opportunity to connect more closely with veterans and their families, while also helping veterans and their families connect to the community and resources. Be sure to review the Community Conversations with Veterans page for the current program overview and timeline.

Be sure to check out our Community Conversations with Veterans Playlist!

Before You Start Programming: Community Partnerships & Research

Community Conversations with Veterans programs, designed in collaboration with your community partner, might include: interactive exhibits & other arts-related activities and discussions, readings/speaker discussions, panel discussions, film viewings and discussions, book discussions, writing workshops, oral history projects, trauma informed yoga workshops or presentations, mental or physical health related panel discussions, workshops or presentations, and civic engagement or volunteer projects that encourage conversation and discussion. Input and feedback from past partners, veterans, volunteers, participating librarians, and the War Comes Home project staff demonstrates that arts programming is an effective and accessible conduit for dialogue and discussion. Ready to dive in? First, read on.

Possible Programming Partners and Resources

  • Combat Paper – San Francisco based project that transforms military uniforms into handmade paper.
  • Coming Home – Offers military veterans the opportunity to explore the moral, psychological, and spiritual impacts of war on the warrior as she or he returns home.
  • Connected Warriors – empowers service members, veterans and their families through trauma-conscious yoga.
  • Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center – As the traumatic brain injury (TBI) Pathway of Care manager within the Military Health System, promotes state-of-the-science care from point-of-injury to reintegration for service members, veterans, and their families to prevent and mitigate consequences of mild to severe TBI.  CA Regional Education Coordinators may be available to partner on programming and outreach.
  • Eleven The Movie (Documentary) – Eleven surviving WWII Veterans from Carrier Air Group 11 share stories with the grandson of one of their comrade-in-arms. Producer/Director, George Retelas, is based in the Bay Area and is also available for travel to the Modesto/Sacramento area for library screenings.
  • Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields  (Documentary, 40 min) – Award-winning documentary film and social action campaign that champions the growing network of combat veterans who are transitioning into careers as sustainable farmers, ranchers and artisan food producers.  Screening event guide and education/community license available. DVD package includes The Ground Operations Field Manual, a resource guide for beginning farmer veterans. Filmmaker is based in Ventura County. See also the Vets & Sustainable Farming Opportunities resource.
  • Listen 2 A Veteran Project – Reduces the common chasms between veterans and non-veterans through the simple act of a non-veteran listening to a veteran from any era.
  • Mil-Tree – Brings veterans, active duty, and civilians together through arts and dialogue to help transform the wounds of war. Example of local organization (Morongo Basin) working with similar goals.
  • Mindful Veteran Project – Nonprofit that provides mindfulness training and free events for veterans and their families in the greater Los Angeles area.
  • National Conversation Project – Started as a National Conversation Week, moving into ongoing monthly conversations and more. Resources for moderators.
  • Operation Gratitude – Care packages for the military, to their children, wounded heroes, and caregivers. Operation Gratitude provides civilians anywhere in America a way to say “Thank You” through active, hands-on volunteerism.
  • Poets & Writers – Contact Jamie Fitzgerald about writing workshops for veterans in your area.
  • Resurface (Documentary) – Research has demonstrated the healing effects of surfing on the brain and body. Organizations like the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, Operation Surf and more are now acting on this research, turning to ocean therapy to help active duty Marines and vets cope with physical and mental trauma. Info re: Resurface license for Educational Viewings.
  • Returning Soldiers Speak – A venue for veterans of all conflicts and wars to tell their stories through the spoken word.
  • Shelter to Soldier – One example of many nonprofits linking veterans to service and support animals. This agency’s mission is to bring post-9/11 combat veterans together with trained, rescue dogs.
  • StoryCenter – Workshops, listening stations, and training for libraries interested in listening to and sharing stories. See Whittier Veterans’ Portrait of Service – As part of the California Listens Project, StoryCenter worked with the staff of the Whittier Public Library, and photographer William Short, to capture a series of portraits and interviews with local veterans.
  • StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative – Provides a platform for veterans, service members, and military families to share their stories. Record and archive a conversation with the free StoryCorp app & user guide.
  • United States Veterans’ Artist Alliance – Connects veterans, artists, individuals and organizations within the arts and veterans’ communities with funding and support for individual artistic projects in theater, film, television, and the arts.
  • Veterans Book Club at Indiana University South Bend – Discussion questions for Here, Bullet, Anatomy of a Soldier, and more. Also includes links to documentaries and programming ideas.
  • Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress – Collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of veterans. See the Field Kit for more info about interviews.
  • Veterans in the Arts – Program through CA Arts Council that seeks to increase equity, access, and opportunities for veterans to participate in quality arts programming that is sensitive and responsive to their unique experiences.
  • Veterans Writing Group of San Diego County – Offers programming model and resources for creating local veterans writing groups.
  • Veterans Writing Project – provides no-cost writing seminars and workshops for veterans, service members, and their adult family members. Quarterly literary review and an ongoing scroll of writing at O-Dark-Thirty.
  • Veterans Yoga Project – Education and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of military veterans. Lists local teachers.
  • Visions of Warriors (Documentary) –  Shows veterans from the Vietnam War era to the Iraq War as they participate in the Veteran Photo Recovery Project at the VA Menlo Park. Ming Lai (producer, writer, director) is LA based and available for library screenings. Discussion Guide (password: discussion) and Press Kit available.
  • War Comes Home – Launched in 2014, the initiative from Cal Humanities helped veterans strengthen connections to their communities, and vice versa, and increase awareness and understanding of the impacts of war.  See the Discussion Guide for discussion questions, interview with the author, and supplementary reading and viewing list.
  • War Comes Home: The Legacy (Exhibit) – The exhibit features letters from Chapman Colleges American War Letters Center. Veterans Connect @ the Library paid exhibit costs so that the exhibit could be placed in Veterans Connect @ the Library Veteran Resource Centers.
  • War Ink – Virtual exhibit of curated memorial tattoos. The project was a partnership between the Contra Costa County Library, a collective of California’s major library systems, and Jason Deitch, a former Army medic and military sociologist. Funding came from IMLS through the State Library.
  • Women Veterans Alliance – Brings women veterans together to equip, empower and encourage each other. Handful of California Chapters.
  • Wounded Warrior CARE events

IMLS and Statewide Aligned Program Goals & Outcomes

  • Outcome 2b: Californians discover and participate in learning opportunities at the library
  • Outcome 3c: Californians connect and collaborate through their library

Community Surveys & Library Report – Due August 31, 2020

UPDATE MARCH 2020: Programs, Community Surveys, Speaker Payments, and Library Reports NOW DUE August 31, 2020. Be sure to track attendance and offer community surveys at every Community Conversations with Veterans program. 

Community Surveys – You may offer the community surveys either online or in printed format.  Be sure your library name is selected from the drop-down menu. Once surveys are returned, please enter them at the SurveyMonkey link below.

  1. CCWV Community Survey- English (MS Word)
  2. CCWV Community Survey – Spanish (MS Word)
  3. CCWV Community Survey – English & Spanish –

Library Report – Once your Community Conversations with Veterans programming is complete, enter the Library Report online at

Community Conversations with Veterans Booklist

The Community Conversations with Veterans 2020 booklist below was built with library input, Veterans Resource Center volunteer input, and collaboration with Ingram Library Services Collection Development department (Veterans & Military Families list). Let us know what books we should add to the future booklist that will inspire conversations with veterans and community members and will support your programming and collection needs. See also the 2019 Community Conversations with Veterans Booklist and the Veterans Connect @ the Library Recommended Books.

After Action: The True Story of a Cobra Pilot’s Journey Sheehan, Dan
Alone at Dawn: Medal of Honor Recipient John Chapman and the Untold Story of the World’s Deadliest Special Operations Force Schilling, Dan ; Longfritz, Lori
As You Were: To War and Back with the Black Hawk Battalion of the Virginia National Guard Davenport, Christian
Away for the Holidays Group, Veterans Writing
Back in the Fight: The Explosive Memoir of a Special Operator Who Never Gave Up Kapacziewski, Joseph ; Sasser, Charles W
Baghdaddy: How Saddam Hussein Taught Me to Be a Better Father Riley, Bill
Black Soldier of Mercy Brown, Joseph E
Brave Like Me Kerley, Barbara
Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure Clare, Eli
Camouflaged Sisters: Leadership Through the Eyes of Senior Military Women Leaders Holley, Lila
A Dog Named Beautiful: A Marine, a Dog, and a Long Road Trip Home Kugler, Rob
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America Macy, Beth
Eat the Apple Young, Matt
Field Exercises: How Veterans Are Healing Themselves Through Farming and Outdoor Activities Westlund, Stephanie
The Fighters: Americans in Combat Chivers, C J
Finding Sgt. Kent Hutson, Raymond
Forgotten Hero (Second Edition, 2019) Lindley, Joseph
From Man to Marine and Back Again: The True Story of a Man who faced War and PTSD Oliver, Richard Ricco
Ghosts of Fallujah Tyler, Coley D
Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service Sinise, Gary ; Brotherton, Marcus
Guys Like Me: Five Wars, Five Veterans for Peace Messner, Michael A
The Habit of Noticing: Using Creativity to Make a Life (and a Living) Smith, Darden ; Zanes, Warren
Hero Dad Hardin, Melinda ; Langdo, Bryan
Hero Mom Hardin, Melinda ; Langdo, Bryan
In an Empty Room Spotte, Stephen
In the Weeds Ozeroff, Mark
Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man Vincent, Lynn ; Vladic, Sara
Invisible Heroes of World War II: Extraordinary Wartime Stories of Ordinary People Borrowman, Jerry
The Invisible String Karst, Patrice ; Stevenson, Geoff
It’s Only Painting: Essays on Creativity from a Veteran Artist Blackburn, Tesia ; Drago, Patrice
Lava Dawgs: A Fight for Fallujah Moose, Charlie
Legion Rising: Surviving Combat And The Scars It Left Behind Morris, Jeff
Listen Up!: Things I Learned From the Military Group, Veteran’s Writing
The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family Raddatz, Martha
My Daddy Sleeps Everywhere Franklin, Jesse ; Fox, Tahna Desmond
Nature’s Grace: America’s Veterans and the Healing Power of Nature Dustin, Daniel L
Patriots from the Barrio: The Story of Company E, 141st Infantry: The Only All Mexican American Army Unit in World War II Gutierrez, Dave
Price of Duty Strasser, Todd
Racing Back to Vietnam: A Journey in War and Peace Pendergrass, John
Recollections of an Artist and Veteran Hastings, Melissa Athena ; Robins, Norm
Redeployed: How Combat Veterans Can Fight the Battle Within and Win the War at Home Fleming, Brian ; Robichaux Ph D, Chad
Returning Soldiers Speak: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry by Soldiers and Veterans Squire, Leilani
Rogue 36: Brotherhood, Sacrifice, & War Krause, J Edison
A Rumor of War: The Classic Vietnam Memoir (Anniversary) Caputo, Philip ; Powers, Kevin
Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour at Arlington National Cemetery Cotton, Tom
Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations McRaven, William H
Siege of Khe Sanh: The Story of the Vietnam War’s Largest Battle Pisor, Robert ; Bowden, Mark
Soaring to Glory: A Tuskegee Airman’s Firsthand Account of World War II Handleman, Philip ; Stewart, Harry T
Soft Spots: A Marine’s Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Van Winkle, Clint
Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II Makos, Adam
Spirit: The Life and Art of Jesse Treviño Head, Anthony ; Cisneros, Henry Gabriel
Still Coming Home: Denver Veterans Writing Arment, Jason ; Dunn, Steven ; Strout, Bethany
Stone in a Sling: A Soldier’s Journey Larouche, Laura ; Meehan, Scott
The Storytellers: Veteran and Family Members Write about Military Life: Veteran and Family Members Write about Military Life Squire, Leilani ; Woodard, Denise M ; Mathers, Dallas Dorsett
Stryker: The Siege of Sadr City Ludwig, Konrad R K
Taking Baghdad: Victory in Iraq With the US Marines Grant, Aaron Michael
Things They Cannot Say Sites, Kevin
Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace Hong Kingston, Maxine
Waiting for Eden Ackerman, Elliot
War Flower: My Life After Iraq King, Brooke
The Weight of My Armor: Creative Nonfiction and Poetry by the Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group Kleinbart, Ivy ; McShane, Peter ; Schell, Eileen
When Our Blue Star Turned Gold Burgess, Terry
Women Heroes of the US Army: Remarkable Soldiers from the American Revolution to Today McCallum Staats, Ann


Community Conversations Samples and Resources


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Contribute to this Toolkit

The Community Conversations with Veterans Toolkit is a living document.  We welcome your ideas and additions! Please let us know how we can improve this toolkit and what you would like to see added to the booklist.