Pat Murphy…The Veterans Writing Group is a bunch of military veterans that meet once a month in North San Diego to share their life and stories. The stories are, “Sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, always ringing true” and they come from the heart. If you can’t physically join them you can enjoy their new book, “Away for the Holidays”.
The book is now available in paperback at Amazon Books. A reception for the release of the book was held on Saturday Nov. 19 at the Veterans Association of North County (VANC). It was attended by supporters, Veterans and a few of the 22 authors that contributed to the book. Several of the Veteran/Authors came up to the podium to read excerpts from the book. The tidbits we heard prompted me to purchase a couple of copies before they were all gone. Other attendees had the same urge and soon the volunteers at the book table were taking names and making a list of books to deliver.
Photos by Philippe Carre www.buntyphotopgraphie.com
The main goal of the book sales is not, I reiterate…not, to generate a profit. What? Isn’t that why people publish books, to make a profit? Retired Naval Aviator Ron Pickett, one of the book’s authors and major supporter of the Veterans Writing Group told us that 100% of the sales is going towards putting copies of the book into the hands of veterans. Books will be distributed to Hospitals and USO lounges. The initial cost of printing was covered thanks to generous donations from the ISSA Family Foundation in Vista and the writers themselves. For every book sold, a book will be donated to our veterans, past and currently serving.
Gail Chatfield a co-founder of the Veterans Writing Group greeted us as we arrived and was the Emcee for the event. She also wrote the forward for the book. She told us that the authors represented various branches of the military and spanned every major military engagement since WWII. She told us that the book had resulted from a writing “prompt” that was assigned to the writing group. It was an easy theme since most of the veterans in the group had been deployed during the Holidays at one time during their respective commitment.
Several Vistans came to support this official launching of “Away ForThe Holidays”. Leaving the borders of her realm was the Mayor of Vista Judy Ritter. Planning Commissioners Stephanie Jackel and Garry Garretson were on hand but since Garry wrote one of the stories in the book I expected to see him there. What I didn’t expect was for Garry to acknowledge the support given by TheVistapress.com for our continuing support of the Veterans Writing Group. Garretson pointed out that writers need a place to publish. However, in all fairness the writing efforts of the writers from this group (like Thomas Calabrese) have been a favorite of our readers.
One of the book’s 22 authors, Terry A. Severhill is a Vista alum. He graduated from VHS in 1968 (under the name of Terry Hill) and served in Viet Nam with his brother and his father. Severhill read his poem and told us that he was the last member of his family to return from Viet Nam. The good news is that they all did return. Severhill has previously published two poems, “Fear” and “Across town”. Glen Foss whose military service included submarine duty during the Viet Nam era wrote the short story, “Christmas Crossroads” and poured wine for the gathering. Another contributor, Robert Caudill brought his service dog, Bravo with him.
Dante Puccetti and Ramon Garcia both read excerpts of their stories. Garcia’s “Hiding from the Monster” is intriguing and Puccetti’s “Nam Xmas Hope… NOT!” is a wry commentary. Col. Joe Snyder, USMC Ret. was also at the reception. Snyder wrote a story titled “Christmas in Hawaii”. Missing from action at this pleasant function was Thomas Calabrese, a regular contributor to TheVistaPress.com and Chuck Rabel, a Vistan who is well known in Vista for his philanthropic work.
The Editor of the book was also at the reception. J. Randall Davis works at Camp Pendleton and has taught Writing Composition at Mira Costa College for 15 years. Randy, as everyone calls him, used his summer free time to help these veterans with their stories in this anthology.
The Veterans Association of North County Resource Center is located at 1617 Mission Avenue in Oceanside and it serves more than thirty veteran organizations. The VANC Resource Center provides a place for all branches of retired, veteran, active, and reserve military personnel and their families to meet and receive needed support. The center is a source for information about social services, veterans’ activities, and veterans’ benefits that will improve the quality of life of those who have served our country on our behalf.
Gail Chatfield and Ron Pickett accepted a Certificate of Appreciation from Senator Joel Anderson who represents the Thirty Eight District in California. Anderson was unable to attend in person and has one of his staff deliver the document. Past Commander of American legion Post 365, George Simons congratulated the writers on their accomplishment.
The book is a microcosm of the feelings that have fluctuated in the hearts of our service men and women every holiday season when they long for the familiar faces of the family and friends while serving in distant places. It is heartfelt and inspirational reading. The book will make an excellent gift for anyone who has ever served in the military.