‘Stories Deployed’: Whatcom County veterans put pen to paper on experiences in service

By Antonio Unpingco

Military veterans and their stories document our history. There is a custom of writers interpreting their war experiences like Gertrude Stein, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ernest Hemingway.

Western’s Veteran Outreach Center is joining a national movement of storytelling among military veterans with their event called Stories Deployed where local veterans share their personal writings. Stories Deployed is one of the many movements including the Telling Project, Warriors Write, and the Veterans Writing Project.

Stories Deployed is a way to present the public with the experience of war veterans from different eras. Jesse Atkins, who served in the Navy from 2002 to 2005 created and hosted the first Stories Deployed event three years ago.

“[Stories Deployed] allows the public to share in the experience of veterans. The sharing of these experiences and stories are usually kept within the veteran community. However, the event opens the door for the public to see what we have experienced as veterans and active duty members.” said Atkins.

Brandon Quackenbush, the Veterans Outreach Center Coordinator at Western who served in the Navy for six years said “I think often people lose sight of the human experience behind service. I hope that we can show someone who has never had contact with the Armed Forces that we have these experiences that color our worldview in a way that isn’t the same as the average college student, employee, etc.”

The national storytelling movement of service members also benefits the veterans themselves.

“There is an aspect to it that is therapeutic for some, and that is a big part of a lot of writing groups: to help people process experience through prose or poetry.” said Quackenbush.

“Stories Deployed helps the veteran writers by giving them the space, ability, and support to tell their story” said Atkins.


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