Photo Courtesy of Thomas Shahan, CCV

Q: I’m not a veteran. May I attend?
Yes! All community members are welcome. Only veterans will speak, but non-veterans are encouraged to attend, to listen, and to learn.

 

Q: I’m a veteran and am interested in speaking. Could you tell me more about the event?

The idea behind a Veterans Town Hall is to give vets of all wars a chance to address their community directly and without intermediaries. Junger suggests that the focus should be the emotional experience of the war, whatever that may mean for each particular person. We ask that speakers focus on their own individual experiences, reflections, and insights (rather than speaking on behalf of others or an organization).

Each veteran will be given up to 10 minutes to speak. Our goal is for every veteran who would like to speak to have a chance to. Veterans who would like to speak can mark that preference when registering on eventbrite.

At the Colchester event only, there will be an optional Q&A at the end of the event. Speakers are welcome to participate in the Q&A, but should not feel any pressure to do so.

 

Q: I’ve spoken at a previous event.  May I speak again this year?
Yes, veterans are welcome to speak again.

 

Q:  What are the guidelines for attendees?
Throughout the event, you may hear something you agree or disagree with. You may have a question. Or you may want to say encouraging words with the intention to help. However, we ask that you please refrain from responding to any speaker at any time. There will be no debate on the merits or justifications of war, recriminations or accusations. This is simply a chance for veterans to tell their community what it felt like to go to war. All perspectives are valued and important.

It’s okay to leave the auditorium and come back. This isn’t a performance; it’s a public gathering, and the aim is that it be respectful but relaxed.

At the Colchester event only, there will be an optional question-and-answer period at the end of the event. We ask that attendees only ask questions of the speakers who choose to participate in this Q&A, and only ask questions during the Q&A.

 

Q: Are children welcome?

Your children are welcome to attend with you, but when deciding whether or not to bring them, please be aware that speakers will address serious topics and that this is not a rehearsed event.

 

Q: Are tables available for organizations?

There won’t be any tabling at the event, in order to make sure the focus is clearly on the speakers and the experiences being shared. Of course, it’s important to share information about resources as well, so there will be a table with literature from various organizations. Please don’t hesitate to bring some fliers for this table. Representatives from Veterans Service Organizations are also welcome to bring business cards and share those; there’s generally some socializing before/after the event. If your organization has representatives who are veterans, they are welcome to speak – but we ask that they speak as individuals, not on behalf of the organization.

 

Q: How can I learn more about the Veterans’ Town Hall initiative and how to start one in my hometown?
The first Veterans’ Town Hall of this sort was held in Marblehead, MA, in 2015. Click here for info on that and on starting an event in your hometown. The event format was conceived by author Sebastian Junger. Click here to read the Vanity Fair article where he first discussed these events.

 

Q: Who organizes/sponsors these events?

These events first and foremost exist because of the communities where they take place.  They would not happen without the veterans who have spoken at each event and the veteran and non-veteran attendees who have shown up to listen. Additionally, many individuals and organizations have offered advice, feedback, and support. Among those individuals are the event hosts: John Tracy (Chittenden County, 2017), Jon Turner (Chittenden County, 2018-19), Kyle Aines (Rutland County,  2018-19), and Marty McMahon (Caledonia County, 2019).

The Chittenden County event is organized by local event coordinator Kristen Eaton. Kristen also works on some of the communications that make sense to manage on a statewide level, like this website. The 2017-2019 Chittenden County events have been coordinated on a volunteer basis. (The Vermont Veterans Fund has kindly provided funding for 2020. You can find out how to donate to the Vermont Veterans Fund here.)  The venue sponsors have been the Burlington Mayor’s Office (2017, 2018) and St. Michael’s College Military Community Services and Student Veteran Association (2019).

The Rutland and St. Johnsbury events are coordinated by Community College of Vermont, which also supports marketing efforts for all three locations.

 

Q: How can I contact the organizer?
Please email Kristen at kristen.eaton@gmail.com with any questions.

If you’d rather chat in person, you can find Kristen in person at the events below (during the fall of 2019):

  • Richmond Farmers Market
    Fridays, October 4th & 11th
    3pm-7pm on the Volunteers Green in Richmond
    (Look for the Vermont Veterans Town Hall Events table.)
  • Burlington Farmers Market
    Saturdays, October 12, 19 & 26
    8:30am – 2pm on Pine Street, Burlington
    (Look for the Vermont Veterans Town Hall Events table.)
  • Winooski Farmers Market
    Sundays, October 20 & 27
    10am – 2pm in front of the Champlain Mill
    (Look for the Vermont Veterans Town Hall Events table.)
  • Green Mountain Project Healing Waters Tuesday fly tying sessions
    Most Tuesdays in October