When I first started writing Veteran of the Day stories (VODs), I was nervous. It’s a big responsibility and honor to write a Veteran’s story, but the effort to create an accurate and full story is more than worthwhile. My favorite part of creating a VOD is learning about the Veteran’s service and current life. I especially enjoy having the opportunity to talk with Veterans either via phone calls or email exchanges. As an intern, I’ve spoken with Veterans from various branches, all with unique service experiences. I have learned so much from their stories and service. These exchanges allow me to connect with people I may have never talked to prior to this internship and to broaden my worldview.
Writing VODs has taught me more about how the military functions and has expanded my understanding of United States history, a topic I have always enjoyed learning about. Researching Veteran stories and writing VODs allows me to virtually travel the world. Through VODs, I learn about events that I either barely remember or wasn’t alive for through a personal lens, rather than a historical one. As an intern working on a variety of writing projects, I’ve interviewed a World War II and Korean War Veteran who went to the same university I am currently attending, Gulf War Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans, as well as Veterans who served in peaceful areas supporting a variety of jobs, among them an American Forces Network journalist, mechanic and recruiter.
These conversations stick with me as I write and work to continue to share the valuable story with others on the VA’s platforms. I recognize the power a shared story holds and therefore strive to present my best work with every VOD. Often, I work with the Veterans I am writing about to make sure they consider the final draft to be one that best represents them and our conversation prior to publication.
While this is a virtual internship, the opportunity to write VODs allows me to connect with others and to utilize my love for writing in a beneficial way that gives back to society by honoring those who served our country. Writing VODs is an endless opportunity to learn more and deepen my appreciation for the vast variety of experiences each person has lived through. Each VOD I write stays with me long after the final draft is submitted, and the stories add thought-provoking layers to my understanding of both history and the present.
Writer: Kimberly Kassis
Editor: Katherine Berman & Julia Pack Graphic
Designer: Katie Rahill