UT Tyler Program Connects Veterans With Community

May 1, 2024 | Hannah Buchanan

Participants in Veterans' Voices ProgramThe UT Tyler College of Education and Psychology has launched an experimental program with support from Humanities Texas that connects veterans with the community. Learn more about the college’s efforts.

UT Tyler assistant professor Dr. Adam McGuire and clinical psychology PhD students organized the first Veterans’ Voices program last fall at UT Tyler. Veterans’ Voices, a five-week program in collaboration with the statewide grant platform Humanities Texas, brings veterans and civilians together to read and discuss literature featuring war, military or veteran/service-member themes.

Five students – all interested in pursuing careers in veteran health care – were trained alongside five local veterans from the Tyler community to become program discussion leaders.

Program trainings included learning how to engage with literary analysis, facilitate open and respectful discussions, manage potential group conflict, and communicate with veterans and civilians about sensitive topics, such as war stories and difficult military-related experiences. Students partnered with the trained veterans to co-lead Veterans’ Voices discussion groups during the program’s weekly meetings.

“This experiential program allowed our PhD students to gain hands-on experience forming bonds with veterans in our community, engaging in serious discussions about military experiences, and gaining insight directly from veterans,” said McGuire, who also directs the UT Tyler Enhancing Lives and Experiences of Veterans Affected by Traumatic Events, or ELEVATE, research lab.

Across the five weeks, 21 people participated in the program, including other veterans and civilians from the community, and other UT Tyler students. Every meeting began with participants forming small break-out groups. Discussion leaders guided the groups to read text excerpts out loud from a wide range of war/military-related literature. After the readings were complete, leaders facilitated a discussion about reactions and interpretations of the text.

Participants reported experiencing several benefits including a greater awareness and understanding of military experiences, McGuire said, noting that veterans also reported positive experiences and enjoyed helping others understand unique aspects of miliary culture.

Veterans’ Voices is scheduled to continue again this fall with the hopes of expanded participation, McGuire added. For more information about the program, contact McGuire at amcguire@uttyler.edu.