So I read this article a few days ago via Arts Journal, and I continue to be intrigued by it:
The National Endowment for the Arts—whose past endeavours include funding controversial art projects such as Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ," a photograph of a crucifix immersed in luminous urine that enraged conservatives in the US—is running a new literary programme. The government agency is turning fighters into writers as part of “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience." The idea is to encourage servicemen and women to write down their stories. Dana Gioia, the chairman of the NEA, says this is an attempt to “give a voice to people who often think of themselves as silent” and to preserve “the testimony of men and women who saw the events directly."
I think this is far more helpful than sending our pampered pop stars (Nick & Jessica's Tour of Duty, anyone?) overseas. For while I have no doubt that the sight of Jessica Simpson shaking her ass while she shatters windows with her singing is as uplifting an experience as any it is, alas, fleeting. Nick and Jess can get you through the night, but writing? Writing can you get you through anything.
Quite the impressive list of teachers, too. These soldier-writers and their families could conceivably complete tome after tome (or perhaps "first draft after first draft" is more accurate) if you believe reports like this one that says we might occupy Iraq for another five years...