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?

Listening without judgment or interruption is one of the most powerful and supportive acts a person can offer, and that is what is expected of veterans and non-veterans alike. You may hear something you 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 refrain from commenting in any way during the event. If veterans wish to continue a conversation with you afterward, that is entirely up to them. But the point of this event is simply to give veterans a chance to speak, and to bring the community closer around them.

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.

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 (at indoor events, at least) 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 Vets Town Hall initiative and how to start one in my hometown?
The first national Vets Town Hall website is vetstownhall.org.

 

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, Jon Turner, Kyle Aines, and Marty McMahon.

Many of Vermont’s Vets Town Halls have been organized by local event planner Kristen Eaton. Kristen also works on some of the communications that make sense to manage on a statewide level, like this website. Kristen worked on the 2017-2019 Chittenden County events on a volunteer basis. The Vermont Veterans Fund has kindly provided funding for 2021. (You can find out how to donate to the Vermont Veterans Fund here.)

Here are the Vets Town Halls that have been held in Vermont:

  • November 2017 at Contois Auditorium, Burlington. Hosted by John Tracy. Coordinated by Kristen Eaton. Venue sponsored by the Mayor’s Office.
  • November 2018 at Contois Auditorium, Burlington. Hosted by Jon Turner. Coordinated by KE. Venue sponsored by the Mayor’s Office. Marketing support from CCV.
  • November 2018 in Rutland. Hosted and coordinated by Kyle Aines and Community College of Vermont.
  • November 2019 at McCarthy Arts Center, SMC, Colchester. Hosted by Jon Turner. Coordinated by KE. Venue sponsored by St. Michael’s College Military Community Services and Student Veteran Association. Marketing support from CCV
  • November 2019 in Rutland. Hosted and coordinated by Kyle Aines and CCV
  • November 2019 at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury. Hosted and coordinated by Marty McMahon and CCV
  • June 2021 at Camp Meade in Middlesex. Hosted by Jon Turner. Coordinated by KE. Venue sponsored by Camp Meade. Marketing support from CCV
  • Additional 2021 dates TBA

 

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