Vietnam War veterans to hold book reading event in Old Fort

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On Veterans Day this Sunday, Nov. 11, 17 Vietnam War veterans will do a reading from their book at Old Fort Elementary School, 128 S. Mauney Ave. The free program will begin at 1 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. A reception will follow at 3 p.m. at Mountain Gateway Museum (pictured) where copies of the book will be available for sale and some of its authors will be available to sign them.

As part of their therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, some local combat veterans of the Vietnam War have written a book of prose and poems about their experiences titled, “Brothers Like These.”

On Veterans Day this Sunday, Nov. 11, 17 of these men — representing all branches of the military — will do a reading from their book at Old Fort Elementary School, 128 S. Mauney Ave.

The free program will begin at 1 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. A reception will follow at 3 p.m. at Mountain Gateway Museum, 24 Water St., Old Fort, where copies of the book will be available for sale and some of its authors will be available to sign them, according to a news release.

According to David Rozzell of Old Fort, who spent two years in Vietnam as an Army sergeant, the group of wounded soldiers came together about four years ago at the Charles George Veterans Administration Medical Center in Oteen. There, they met Dr. Bruce Kelly, a primary care physician who had pioneered Medical Humanities at the VA and a community-based Arts in Medicine program.

At about the same time, Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina’s Poet Laureate in 2012, decided to make his signature project about capturing the stories of returning combat veterans. Kelly and Bathanti joined forces to launch a writing program among Vietnam War combat veterans in Kelly’s care. A room in the medical center’s basement became their writing lab. The result was “Brothers Like These,” published by St. Andrews University Press of Laurinburg in 2017.

The soldier-authors premiered their work as a staged reading to a packed house at the Asheville Community Theater on Aug. 31, 2016. They since have done other readings in western North Carolina and have plans to do more throughout the state. Their book is currently St. Andrews Press’s best seller, according to the news release.

For more information about the book and the Veterans Day program, contact RoAnn Bishop at Mountain Gateway Museum at 828-668-9259 or David Rozzell at 828-460-1298.

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