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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Creative opportunities provided to veterans through new organization

The Upper Peninsula Military Veteran Writers & Artists is a new resource on NMU’s campus that is available for veterans who may have previously been overlooked in NMU student organizations.

The new resource is based out of the veteran’s lounge in the upstairs of Hedgcock — which is the home location for the only active student organization that is looking out for the interests of students who have served or are serving in America’s armed forces.

According to English MFA graduate student and teacher’s assistant Alex Gubbins, the Military Veteran Writers and Artists student organization group officially started in January 2012; however, the idea and initial formation of the group began as early as the fall semester of 2011.

“We wanted to create a writing group on campus that was available for veterans,” Gubbins said. “We felt there needed to be a place for vets to reintegrate socially and to be able to write about the veteran experience.”

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According to Gubbins, it would be best for the organization to focus on writing as the medium to help members develop a working dialog with which to express and share their experiences — and not just among other veterans, but also with the civilian community.

“When [Gubbins] expressed his idea to me, I agreed it should happen,” MFA English literature graduate Mike Brennan said. “Between the two of us, we managed to make the group official and set up the veteran’s lounge.”

It was not long before other members joined, such as junior Frank Lombard, a social work major.

“I showed up to the group because it was the only veteran’s group,” Lombard said. “I looked at the list of organizations available and there it was.”

According to senior Robin Romero, an English writing major, he became a member of the group with the recommendation of professor Dan Gocella.

“The group is not limited to just writers,” Gubbins said. “We would like to expand the group beyond just writing so that we are not leaving anyone out.”

The veteran’s lounge is a resource that is available to all vets — and not just members of the writing group, according to Brennan.

There is a bulletin board where important information is posted and a computer is available for doing research or any other potential needs.

“Northern is recognized as one of the top-10 military friendly schools (in the country),” Brennan said. “Having these resources available is important in keeping that and improving on it.”

According to Gubbins, the group is assembling an anthology to showcase the work of veteran writers.

They are currently looking for material. Submissions do not need to be from students, and is open to anyone who has served in the armed forces, as well as their families.

The book is intended to be used as a text for classroom use and to serve as a dialog into the isolation and culture of a veteran’s experience upon returning to civilian society.

The book is also meant to be a step toward educating non-vets to have an understanding of their own unique life experiences.

“If you are a veteran, whether you write or even if you aren’t interested in writing, get in touch with the group,” Romero said. “We also have two summer workshops coming up.”

The Military Veterans Writers & Artists group can be reached on their website, www.mvwarevision.com or by email at [email protected]. The group can also be heard performing readings for a Veteran’s Day broadcast on NPR at www.wnmufm.org/programs/special-features.

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