StoryCorps: The stories from our veterans

Posted October 27, 2014

Written By: StoryCorps

In the late summer of 2011, the PEW Research Center conducted a national survey with post-9/11 veterans and explored their attitudes on a wide range of matters including sacrifice, burden sharing, patriotism, and the gap between veterans and civilians.

In an effort to create a space for reflection and dialogue, StoryCorps launched the Military Voices Initiative (MVI). The Military Voices Initiative records, preserves, and shares the stories of post-9/11 veterans, active-duty service members and their families. In doing so, we honor their voices, amplify their experiences, and help bridge the military-civilian gap by listening.

More than 2,000 participants have recorded their stories for MVI. Here’s how we do it—we partner with organizations across the country that serve veterans, servicemembers, and military families. Then we send a team of trained facilitators to record their stories. Two people who know each other (spouses, parents, children, friends, etc.) are invited to sit down and have a conversation. The recordings are 40-minutes of uninterrupted time to share memories, recount experiences, and ask each other meaningful questions. Once the interview is complete, the participants receive a copy of their recording, and with their permission, another copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

These stories offer a compelling portrait of those who have served, the challenges they face coming home again, and the loved ones who support them. In observance of Veteran’s Day, we’ve chosen two stories from this powerful collection of voices. Both stories underscore the sense of duty and service felt by soldiers, and the complex realities of their homecomings. Our hope is that stories from MVI will help spark conversation between service members and civilians.

The first story is a conversation between Marine Corporal Paul Wayman and his friend Nathanael Roberti, a former Navy SEAL, as they discuss the challenges of coming home and “leaving the war behind.”

The second story is a conversation between Sergeant Papsy Lemus and her young daughter discussing her Iraq deployment and fear of being forgotten by her children.

Learn more about StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative.