About the Vermont Humanities Council

Because Ideas Matter

“Having literature bring people together is incredibly powerful.”

Image of Carey Russ with book

Carey Russ is the Women Veterans Program manager at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction. She has helped facilitate two Veterans Book Groups for women, and has also taken part in VHC’s Literature and Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care program.

“The book groups have been by far the most popular programming we’ve done here for women. Every time we have offered them, the interest is huge. We had women coming not only from right here in the Upper Valley, but one woman who came from Rutland, who would really prioritize the group in her schedule.

Talking about things through literature can be just a little bit less threatening, I think, and feels a little bit safer for people. Somebody will say, ‘Well, that reminds of an experience I had.’ Then they’ll say, ‘My gosh, I haven’t thought about that in so long,’ or, ‘I’ve never shared that before and I didn’t even realize how significant it was until now in this group setting.’

Join the VA Women’s Comprehensive Care Center Book Group

Sessions begin July 19, 2017. The groups are free, but pre-registration is required.

Seeing the experience that these women veterans have had in these groups, it has been incredibly healing. Not just because of the connections that they’ve made with one another, which wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for this way to get together. But also because of the connections they’ve made to the literature. The discussions have been truly healing for a lot of them, who have not been in the right space to talk about a lot of their experiences before, or to have them validated.

Having literature to bring people together and also guide them is incredibly powerful and moving. There’s no real substitute for that. It’s different than psychotherapy. It’s different than medication. It’s different than all these other ways we have to help people heal. I think for some people this is what it’s taking to help them heal. I really believe that, because I’ve heard what a lot of these women have shared for the first time in this unique space.”