Our Calling

Leilani SquireBlog2 Comments

Since the inception of Returning Soldiers Speak, we have held the belief that a neutral space allows our veterans to express their views and stories without fear of being judged or rejected. If we had said, “We are a liberal organization,” then the veteran with conservative views might have turned away. It we had said, “We are a conservative organization” then the veteran with liberal views might have fled. It does not matter to us if the veteran’s views are to the left or to the right or in the middle of the political spectrum. What has always mattered is that we offer a safe place for veterans to write their stories, and a venue for them to tell their stories, to speak their truths. What has mattered most is that we support their voices in all of their diversity because our veterans have something to say and they need to say it.

But with the current state of affairs in our country, I can no longer remain silent. I’m certain I will anger some, but that too comes with the mission of Returning Soldiers Speak. Many of the veterans I work with are discouraged and feel the pain of what is happening in the country they served and defended against tyranny, dictatorship and bullies, the country for which they wore the uniform, protecting our constitution, democracy and freedoms. It has always been my job to safeguard their voices so that they may speak what they have written—but these safeguards are needed now, more than ever.

Writing is a sacred act and much of the time it can be difficult because, as writers, we go to those dark places that reside within all of us. But unless we plunge into those places, reveal what exists within, write what we know, what we have experienced – no matter how scary – the very forces the veterans have fought against will overwhelm them, and all of us.

I am not sounding the doomsday alarm; I am presenting a solution. I’m even more committed to creating a safe, fostering and supportive place for veterans to write their stories, their feelings, and their thoughts about what is means to serve in the military as active duty, and what it means to be a veteran during these turbulent, divisive times.

Returning Soldiers Speak must remain vigilant. I call on you to help me protect the voices of those who have seen the effects of tyranny and dictatorships. I call on you to help me serve those who have served. For I believe more than ever we must listen to what our veterans have to tell. Please, find out more about the mission of Returning Soldiers Speak. Tell a veteran about us — they may want to participate. Read Returning Soldiers Speak: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry. Is it possible that, in this way, our work — together with community and veterans and advocates and the families of veterans and civilians — might ensure that our democracy and constitution are protected for future generations?

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About the Author
Leilani Squire

Leilani Squire

Leilani Squire is the Founder and Director of Returning Soldiers Speak. She was born at Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu while her father, Grant R. Squire, was deployed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Okinawa during the Korean War. She is a writer, creativity coach, and since 2010, has been working with veterans and their families to help them tell their stories.

2 Comments on “Our Calling”

  1. Thank you, Ken, for your words of insight and support. Regarding the veterans defending the people at Standing Rock, it looks like it might have helped resolve the issue. There is more work to be done, but the solidarity shown by the veterans who showed up at Standing Rock to protect the people from harm is an example of the best of our veterans. That’s my opinion. And perhaps that is what you mean about the oath you took when you enlisted. To resolve. To protect. To stand up for justice of the people. On another note, thank you for your support in my endeavor. It has been rewarding to listen to your stories, to watch you grow as a person and a writer through your commitments and tenacity. Your sense of humor, how you look at things are an important contribution at this time. Please keep it coming-we need!

  2. Ken Klemm

    Well said and I thoroughly agree. We’ve seen veterans support all candidates, and more are on their way to North Dakota to stand against the tyranny of the oil-fed oligarchy (or should that be oil-agarchy?).
    As one who has participated in several Returning Soldiers Speak events, I can testify to the power of having that space to present our innermost feelings stemming from our periods of service. I’ve been privileged to hear other veterans from all eras, from World War 2 up to the present day.
    Our founding fathers were not saints, but they were smart enough to put the 1st Amendment in its proper place. And it is up to us as veterans to remember, that we did not swear an oath to any individual or any flag. Our out was to support and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic.
    I wholly support Leilaini in this endeavor. And wish the best to all of my fellow veterans, past or present, regardless of their views.

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