Letter to the Editor: Critique of the community read
September 7, 2015
Filed under Letters to the Editor
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My name is Henry Phillips. I am a senior here at Sierra Nevada College. I am part of the small demographic on campus of student veterans. Having served 14 years in the military, including time with an antiterrorism unit, a yearlong combat tour in Iraq and finishing up as a counterintelligence officer, I have unique insight on the struggles of those who serve and their families in time of war.
With this I am appalled at the use of a graphic novel called Refresh Refresh.
After leaving the military in 2013 I came to SNC to pursue my love of learning. I’ve served the time outside the classroom as a staunch veterans advocate and continue my work today. I’ve worked to ensure our student veterans on campus and other veterans in Incline Village have the resources to have an enriched and fulfilled life.
There are many challenges that threaten to drag us under everyday. Those who haven’t served sometimes don’t recognize or comprehend the daily battles we go through. These battles are greatly magnified by going to back to college and other institutes of higher learning. The stress felt of readjusting to civilian life and becoming a contributing member of the community sometimes overwhelms us.
On the SNC campus there is a need for the experiences and life lessons veterans have learned to be communicated to their peers who have not served or have little exposure to the military. The military is a fishbowl magnified version of the changes in American Society.
In an effort to communicate the military experience to the wider civilian population many people have come forth to share their stories. I’m working with college admissions, faculty and staff to help inform, educate and create a more positive supportive atmosphere for veterans on campus.
The book Refresh Refresh attempts to do this but fails miserably. The book takes every dark part of military family life and pushes it to the fore. From first hand experience and anecdotal accounts from fellow service members, the whole of this book is accurate except for the very end in which the three main characters, teenage boys, of the book assault a uniformed Marine.
The Marine is informing the family of one of the characters their father was killed in action. The teenage boys then beat the Marine, duct tape him up and drag him off into the woods, leaving him like that alone in the middle of the winter. The following day the boys join the military.
To my knowledge nothing like this has happened. The graphic novel demonizes the military, the families of the service members, and the communities that support them. There is no reflection on the sacrifice, the horror, the pain many go through. There is only a dark spiral of hate that emanates from this publication. This graphic is highly biased and none of the authors have any military experience published on their respective websites. It also paints a picture that all veterans have loose morals, were raised in split families, have parental issues, are alcoholics, prone to violence and are psychopaths.
How would you feel about this book if this was the picture your fellow students were getting about you? The fact that this publication was approved, with thousands of other better graphic novels to be used, is an affront and smear toward myself, my fellow service members and their families.
I would appreciate if the college would pull the book and cancel the author’s reading and workshop. This level of insensitivity at a liberal arts college is unforgivable. The fact that the student veteran population wasn’t even contacted to have their opinions heard prior to all this being set up smacks of an administration that cares not of the struggle of their students or the reputation of the college on the whole.
Sierra Nevada College, Senior, Student Veteran
Mountain Kings MCF, Non-profit serving veterans, President
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 3819, Chaplain
Incline Village Crystal Bay Veterans Club, Member
American Legion, Post 1, Member
Disabled American Veterans, Post 1, Member
AmVets, Nevada Department, Member