War Comes Home events set to bridge understanding

War Comes Home events set to bridge understanding
Artwork from Combat Arts San Diego is displayed throughout the library as part of the War Comes Home series. Events will be held in October and November. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE —Oceanside Public Library will host a month long series of events and book clubs to help bridge understanding of our military veterans and their experiences during and after war.

Filmmaker Paula J. Caplan said if people ask why they should take time to understand veterans, that’s exactly the point of her film.

The premiere screening of Caplan’s documentary film “Is Anybody Listening” will be shown during the War Comes Home series.

Caplan is a filmmaker, psychologist, playwright and author of numerous books including “When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home.”

She said her inspiration for the documentary film was her own difficulty listening to her father’s war stories.

“I wasn’t hearing them,” Caplan said.

The documentary film addresses the need to listen to veterans one-on-one without judgment.

Caplan said this process is healing for veterans, and empowering to the listener.

“Is Anybody Listening” was made on shoestring budget, and shares the personal accounts of veterans, ages 30 to 90, who randomly volunteered to be part of film project.

Caplan said the feedback from a film preview was how loveable the on screen veterans are, which is a testament to the endearing qualities of all veterans.

She said the film gives insight into the wide range of experiences veterans face. And added some veterans had wonderful military experiences and wound serve again, while others faced a lot of torment.

Following the film screening audience members can take the experience one step further, and sign up to be volunteer listeners to local veterans. One-on-one listening sessions will be scheduled through the library.

The War Comes Home series also includes the Experimental Arts Workshop by Mark Jesinoski, which guides participants through art and writing activities to gain deeper insight into veterans’ endurance of trauma and change.

Jesinoski is a workshop instructor, professional painter and psychologist who utilize art therapy to assist veterans.

He said veterans are trained to be on a constant state of high alert during war, and then must make the difficult transition to docile civilian life.

Jesinoski added veterans return home a changed person, but are often expected to act and think like friends and family remember them, which adds to the difficulty of adjusting.

“The divorce and suicide rate is twice that of the nonmilitary population,” Jesinoski said.

Jesinoski said the process of creating art guided by props and metaphors allows participants to reach greater understanding and empathy.

“Art is not just a tangible thing, it’s a process to connect, support and reach spiritual healing,” Jesinoski said.

A list of local support services and recommended books will also be provided to workshop participants.

The War Comes Home series is funded through a Cal Humanities California Reads Grant.

Murals and masks from Combat Arts San Diego are displayed throughout the library as part of the series.

“Is Anybody Listening” will be shown Oct. 18 at 4 p.m. at City Hall Council Chambers. Caplan will also be part of the Local Authors Panel discussion, which will be held at 11 a.m. the same date and location.

The Walk a Mile in Their Boots veterans resource fair will be held Nov. 8 from noon to 5:30 p.m. at the Civic Center Plaza.

For more information go to oceansidepubliclibrary.org.

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