• Vive Griffith

New NEH Grant Opens Doors for Virginia Veterans


Service in the military comes with a clearly defined purpose. “But when we come back, it’s really unclear what our purpose is,” says Marine Corps combat veteran Sarah Bregler, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I was contributing in such a large way before, but what about now?”


With a new grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, veterans like Sarah will have new opportunities to find greater purpose in civilian life. The NEH funding, part of its “Dialogues on the Experience of War” initiative, supports Clemente Veterans’ Initiative (CVI) programs that provide humanities courses in history, literature, art, and moral philosophy designed especially for those who have served and their families. These free courses help veterans understand how they can use their skills and their military experience to feel less isolated and gain confidence to contribute to their communities and improve their lives.


Sarah Bregler, center, during deployment

Bregler graduated in 2019 from the CVI program in Providence and went on to be a teaching assistant in the program. “It opens the door for veterans to contribute in a new way that validates their experiences and harnesses their skills,” she said. “It affirms that you still have a purpose.”


The NEH funding supports a new CVI program in Blacksburg/Roanoke, VA, in partnership with Virginia Tech (VT), and the relaunch of a program in Dorchester, MA, with both on-line and hybrid course models. The program at VT reflects the region’s large military population and the university’s investment in veterans. VT has one of the largest Corps of Cadets in the nation. VT faculty member Jim Dubinsky, who will direct the program, developed the Veterans in Society initiative, which brings academic attention and support to veterans and their families. He says the aim of the new CVI program is to investigate how veterans can approach civilian life with a new sense of duty and service.


“We will explore Homeric epics, the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and WWI, to ask questions that challenge our assumptions about service, duty, and equality,” says Dubinsky. “Studying these wars through the lens of service allows us to better understand how US history informs and guides our service to our democracy, both as soldiers and citizens.”


We at Clemente are delighted to bring our courses to new communities and grateful to the NEH for its continued support of our Veterans’ Initiative. Applications for the Roanoke and Dorchester courses will open later in 2021.



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