Short summary: VAlorU was created in the fall of 2020 to complement Borne the Battle by highlighting Veteran groups that generally receive less attention publicly. This year, the focus is on Native American Veterans and the contributions they have made to all aspects of American military service.
In the fall of 2020, the Digital Media Engagement (DME) team was discussing ideas for new podcasts beyond Borne the Battle. While the DME intern podcast was already in production at this time, the team also wanted to present another Veteran-focused podcast. After deciding on the name VAlorU, it was also determined that the stories would focus on specific groups of Veterans whose contributions are less recognized, like Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Native American Veterans.
For the first year of production, VAlorU is focusing on Native American Veterans. According to Shannon Moran, a member of the intern podcast executive leadership team, Native Americans have made up about 30% of the U.S. Armed Forces since 9/11, but their service has historically gone largely unnoticed. Yet she also points out that many facets of the armed forces have origins in Native American contributions. For example, camouflage usage has been part of Native American war traditions, and the Marine Corps learned fighting techniques from the Apache tribe. These examples are a few of the many reasons the podcast team chose to focus on Native American Veterans for the first series.
Each podcast series will consist of eight episodes. Moran explained that the podcast will address two main points: introducing Veteran stories and discussing issues specifically for Native American Veterans, such as homelessness, reservation services support, warrior culture, PTSD, etc. Reservation services support and warrior culture are particularly significant. The former entails how Native American Veterans receive benefits after leaving the service, while the latter explains why some Native Americans feel joining the military is an extension of their tribal culture.
An example of a story that will be featured is that of Army Veteran Julie Kabance. A member of the Potawatomi tribe, Kabance enlisted and served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) during World War II. After her service, Kabance worked as an accountant on military installations and volunteered at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. At the age of 110, she is among the oldest living Native American World War II Veterans. Her story is one of the many examples of Native American military service in U.S. history that the podcast will highlight.
Moran noted that VAlorU has been a learning experience for everyone on the team, which consists of interns from other departments like social media, research and writing. She said that prior experience in podcasting is not required to do podcast work and that the department is still expanding its outreach. But interns do provide numerous roles in creating the podcast, from topic research to promoting on social media.
As VAlorU is composed of only eight episodes each year, the team will be releasing all eight episodes in May 2021. It will be available for listening on Spotify, Apple, Pandora and other podcast listening platforms.
Writer: Sarah Concepcion
Editors: Julia Pack and Christine Myers
Graphic Designer: Katie Rahill