In May, 2015, the Tampa Bay Great Books Council partnered with the Florida Humanities Council and the Great Books Foundation to create a series of four discussions focused on assisting military men and women transitioning from active duty to civilian life. The sessions were open to all military, as well as family and friends of veterans (at no cost to them).

Participants (a nearly equal mix of veterans and civilians) received complimentary texts and dinner. The Tampa Bay program was one of two trial programs in Florida (one of only 7 states to receive grants to initiate the program).

“Talking Service” was successful beyond our most optimistic expectations, as we delved into the enormous perceptual gulf that sometimes exists between veteran and their families on the one hand, and civilians who may never understand the realities of war, the influence of politics on military decision-making, or PTSD.

The program opened eyes and minds, and even led to a few tears being shed, and it enabled Tampa Bay Great Books Council to step out of its comfort zone and into a broader concept of our service to the community. We look forward to another session in the near future.

— Submitted by Sara Cohen