Annual Veterans Pen Celebration 2021
Veterans Voices Writing Project will mark a historic milestone as part of its 2021 Veterans Pen Celebration.
VVWP, publisher of Veterans’ Voices magazine, this year is celebrating 75 years of service to veterans as part of its annual event at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Mo. The event is open to the public and is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, in the museum’s auditorium.
VVWP started in 1946 as a small group of volunteers who believed that writing can be a form of therapy that can help veterans express some of their emotional distress that they cannot or will not talk about. That mission continues today with the magazine’s three editions per year offering a platform for prose, poetry and graphic arts submitted exclusively by veterans.
This year’s keynote speaker is Dean Vakas, a retired Army veteran with an incomparable record of service and achievement. Vakas served in Iraq and Kosovo. He was brigade commander for the 1st Armored Division and held top leadership positions at the Command and General Staff College and the Defense and Logistics Agency. His 21 medals include Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. His name is on the Kansas State University ROTC Wall of Fame. He lives in Olathe, Kan., and is chief operating officer for the Kansas State University Olathe Campus.
Vakas says the memories from his three decades of military service make him a firm believer in the value of VVWP.
“There is an ongoing flood of memories and emotions associated with being a veteran,” Vakas says. “Many of them are hard to talk about. You keep a lot inside of yourself, and it weighs you down.
“Writing about your feelings is a way to let it out. It is a private and personal means to confront yourself. You choose the words and express your feelings on paper. It offers a powerful emotional release. In turn, veterans who read the writings of others can often identify with the stories. Shared experience helps to create a pathway of healing. VVWP amplifies veterans’ voices and creates sustained powerful therapy.”
This year’s VPC program will also include recognition of veteran contributors who won awards for their Veterans’ Voices submissions throughout 2021.