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Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience

Stories and reflections written by American troops

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OPERATION HOMECOMING is a unique documentary that explores the firsthand accounts of American servicemen and women through their own words. The film is built upon a project created by the National Endowment for the ArtsOff-site link to gather the writing of servicemen and women and their families who have participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Through interviews and dramatic readings, the film transforms selections from this collection of writing into a deep examination of the experiences of the men and women who are serving in America’s armed forces. At the same time it provides depth and context to these experiences through a broader look at the universal themes of war literature.

Still from "Road Work," a short story by Jack Lewis featured in OPERATION HOMECOMING: WRITING THE WARTIME EXPERIENCE.

Still from Road Work, a short story by Jack Lewis.

The writing in OPERATION HOMECOMING covers the full spectrum — poetry, fiction, memoir, letters, journals and essays. The stories recounted here are sad, funny, violent and uplifting. Yet each one displays an honesty and intensity that is rarely seen in explorations of the war. Through an extraordinary group of men and women it presents a profound window into the human side of America’s current conflicts.

At the core of the writing in OPERATION HOMECOMING is a deep desire by all those who have served in war to come to terms with their experiences.  Throughout the film the servicemen and women, young and old, express a profound hope that people will listen to their stories and try to understand what they have seen.

The NEA initiative Operation HomecomingOff-site link brought distinguished writers – including Tobias Wolff, Tom Clancy, Jeff Shaara, Marilyn Nelson, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Mark Bowden — to conduct writing workshops at 25 domestic and overseas military installations from April 2004 through July 2005.

Operation Homecoming also offered an open call for writing submissions to troops who have served since 9/11, along with their spouses and families. That call resulted in more than 10,000 pages of submissions and produced an anthology of the works.  Andrew Carroll edited the anthology, OPERATION HOMECOMING: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families.


Major funding for this film provided by
The Boeing CompanyOff-site link
Logo: Boeing
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