GSU project puts student veterans front, center
Veterans and Governors State University professors are coming together to tell the story of the military experience.
Backed by a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the classroom project was spearheaded by GSU professors Rosemary Johnsen and Andrae Marak, a release said. Support services were provided by the university's Veterans Resource Center.
Over a six-week period, five veterans, who are GSU students, met with Johnson and Marak to reflect on their military experiences. As part of the process, they read poetry and watched documentaries on political performance art.
Later, they were all part of a War, Trauma, and Humanities upper-level English course, where they frequently served as discussion leaders for other classmates.
The veterans included Jermaine Drayton, Victor Garcia, Muriel Williams, Rob Mason and Akya Gossitt.
Garcia, who spent four years in the Marine Corp., talked about when his squad leader was killed in combat, forcing him to take charge of his men.
"The moment he was killed, it fell on my shoulders,” he said in the release. “I remember going through his gear and thinking ‘Now is not the time to grieve because I have guys to lead. We have to continue on because we have to continue on with the mission.'”
Marak said all of the veteran leaders have learned things about themselves that they probably didn’t know coming into the class.
"Our student veterans have found themselves and each other in the poetry, literature, and correspondence that we have covered," he said in the release. "They have created some unique channels for expressing their combat experiences with the rest of us who have never faced similar dangers.”