A book of essays by veterans who are University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) students is about to be published. A book launch for “See Me for Who I Am” will be held Wednesday, Feb. 17, on campus.
The book includes essays by 20 student-veterans at UWSP, aimed at undermining stereotypes of military service. “See Me for Who I Am: Student Veterans’ Stories of War and Coming Home” works to bridge a gap that divides veterans from the American people they fought to protect.
The book launch party is from 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Encore Room of the Dreyfus University Center. Sponsored by the Veterans Club, it is open to the public. Several authors will read excerpts from their essays and be available to sign books.
The book is a compilation of essays written for a UWSP class developed by David Chrisinger. The UWSP alumnus began teaching “Back from the Front: Transitioning from the Military to Civilian Life” in fall 2014 as a first-year seminar. The class was open only to veterans, one of few classes like it in the country. First-year seminars help new students learn the skills they need to do well in college.
Chrisinger helped students transition by learning the history of war, running and writing about their experiences. Inspired by veteran Brian Castner, author of “The Long Walk,” members of the class learn to translate military skills to those needed to succeed in life.
Chrisinger originally planned to self-publish the collection as a fundraiser to keep the class going. When he asked author Castner to read the essays and write a foreword for it, Castner said the essays were good enough to be published professionally.
“I started researching university presses that specialize in military-related topics, and I found Hudson Whitman Press out of Albany, New York. I submitted the manuscript last spring, and the editor emailed me back within an hour,” Chrisinger said. The press had been looking for a project like this.
Students’ essays from the first two semesters of “Back from the Front” seminar are in the book, edited by Chrisinger. “With thoughtfulness, humor and honesty, they relive and relate their worst memories, illustrate shared experiences, explain the fulfillment of combat, and show us what going to war really entails,” he writes in the introduction.
“This is as authentic as it gets. These essays reflect the eloquent, powerful voice of the 21st-century American combat veterans’ collective efforts to navigate their way back into a society that offers gratitude and respect, but lacks empathy and understanding,” writes David J. Danelo, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and author of “The Return: A Field Manual for Life after Combat.”
The book will be available at the launch, in the UWSP Store and through Amazon Feb. 15. For more information online, visit hudsonwhitman.com/books/see-me-for-who-i-am.