Veteran finds cathartic journey through writing



If you’ve never heard of someone making popcorn with C-4 plastic explosive, you haven’t read the right magazine. This is one of the many stories Vietnam War veteran Pete Steciow has shared within his writing group and for the pages of Veterans’ Voices.

“The only thing you didn’t want to do was step on it,” he explained. “If you walked on it, you would get a lot more than popcorn. “

Joining the writing group was an accident. One day, while working as a volunteer at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, a veteran colleague asked for directions to a room where the writing group was meeting. Pete decided to accompany the gentleman to the location and once there he discovered a program he didn’t even know existed.

“You learn things from other veterans. There is socialization about how to deal with your emotions, ”Steciow said. “So many veterans are going through the same things, so it’s very cathartic to hear someone else write and say to you, ‘Well that’s me’, and how they feel and how they get there. face. “

The program was started by Ronald Nash, a Vietnam War veteran who wanted not only to help veterans write better, but also to heal by telling their stories.

“The VA is undergoing a cultural transformation. And before, it was a ‘find it, fix it’ type scenario, and today the whole health journey, the whole health, has 10 different categories (including ) the creative arts, which are writing, drums, music and a number of things. in the creative arts, ”Steciow said.

He says he was able to revisit his own journey through the way his words, written, bring him back to where he was within enemy range on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam.

“The focus was on the barbed wire fences and any enemy movement outside the berm,” Steciow wrote in one of his stories. “Our location was so close to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, an encounter with the enemy was a real possibility.”

He also wrote of the feeling of guilt when given the opportunity for a short visit to rest and relax away from the war.

“Letting my brothers continue to search and destroy while I was in search of a new experience seemed unfair, but I had deserved this leave, having earned my share of many scratches with the enemy,” he said. -he writes.

From R&R to cookies and Jiffy Pop popcorn in his home care packaging, his writing takes him back in time.

“I imagined my mom and sister carefully baking and wrapping the oatmeal, raisin, and peanut butter cookies, along with the Jiffy Pop popcorn, hard candy, and family photos and letters so much. regretted. It’s these stories that help you think there were positive times, and it takes you away from unpleasant memories, ”Steciow said.

The group emphasizes that you don’t have to be a writer to take that first step, but Pete Steciow believes writing can be very powerful in shaping the future.

“If enough is written and if enough people read it, the young people who will grow up will be our future leaders, and I hope they create change and a better world, and I hope we don’t have any.” need. wars.

The drafting group has met virtually due to the ongoing pandemic. You can contact us by going to the group’s main website:

If you have a veteran story to tell in your community, send an email to [email protected] You can also join the Homefront Facebook group, follow Craig McKee on Facebook, and find more Homefront stories here.


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