Never the Same, Again

Leilani SquireJournal

Written in December 2010 There’s no barrier now. This isn’t something aired on the television or written in a magazine. This is happening right in front of me. There’s no screen to protect me from this soldier’s experience in war. There’s no distance between it and me. I see the child’s face–pieces scattered on the marketplace floor. I hear the sound of his boots stepping over thinking these children are his daughter—wondering if he’ll ever put the pieces back—fragments like shard stuck in his psyche. Stuck in mine now. I try to pull them out but I’ve stepped across the … Read More

Patriotism — A Better “ism”

Lester ProbstJournal

Today we are told that our country is split in half and someone or something has to bring us together again. A leading politician recently stated that an entire generation of Americans has come of age and has never seen American prosperity! How can that be when we all live in the most privileged of times and in the most prosperous nation of all. Only 43 % of the nations in the world are free. The US poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Last month, over 100,000 people crossed our borders at great risk to experience our … Read More

“True Story” at EST Theatre

Leilani SquireJournalLeave a Comment

Thank you EST Theatre for inviting us to read at True Story on Sunday evening, January 7th! We enjoyed listening to everyone’s story. The writing was solid, authentic, humorous, thought provoking. The deliveries were as good as the writing. How cool is that? A big shout out to Adam, Wes, Glenn, Mary, Bob and Odd who joined the audience and listened to our storytelling. We appreciate your sincere support. Returning Soldiers Speak alumna and Deadly Writers Platoon member Terre Fallon read a well-crafted edited version of “In the Army” (you can read the complete version in The Storytellers: Veterans and … Read More

We are Proud to Announce…

Leilani SquireJournalLeave a Comment

non-profit word cloud

We are proud to announce: Returning Soldiers Speak is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit public charity organization! We have been on a long and arduous journey since 2010 and have finally arrived at this crossroads. So, what does this new status and title mean for Returning Soldiers Speak? It means that we continue to do what we have always done: support and empower our active duty, veterans and their families to use the power of language and story to tell their stories to us so that we may begin to understand what it means to serve in the military. It means … Read More

raisin balls

adminJournalLeave a Comment

This was a 20-minute unedited timed writing on a prompt given by another member of a writing group. The writing prompt was “We’ve got your balls in a money clip.” Or something like that. A man gave the prompt, and I wasn’t sure if I could write on that, but this is what came out. – Anonymous

A Memorial Day Reflection

Ken KlemmJournalLeave a Comment

memorial day

As we take time to remember the military heroes who sacrificed for this country, let us also remember those who served and returned. Some of them came back changed, never to be the same, or never to be what they could have been had they not been sent to war. And let us not forget those who served in eras of greater peace, who although never called to serve in combat, nonetheless served their country. I am one of those who served in an era when things were much quieter. I served in the U.S. Navy from January 1985 to … Read More

Thank You, Music

Ken GraybillJournalLeave a Comment

Thank you music

I had played clarinet and sax in the school and Boy Scout bands. The high school was central to a farming community, where memorizing the breeds of cattle, sheep, and pigs was mandatory, and music and art were disdained as worthless pursuits. So, when I attained first chair clarinet and played lead alto in the dance band, while doing some arranging (guilty pleasure), nobody cared, especially my stepfather and his kids. After graduating from high school, I got a job downtown where I eventually met a couple of guys who played guitar. I bought a Fender Bass, we found a … Read More

What do you sing, witness?

Leilani SquireJournalLeave a Comment

Recently, singer/songwriter Jason Moon facilitated a writing workshop and performed at Wellness Works, a resource center focusing on healing the body and soul of veterans and the family members of veterans. Jason was deployed to Iraq and returned home changed, and plunged into despair and isolation until he started to write music again. He now helps other veterans navigate their journey home through writing, putting the writing to music, and then sings and records the songs that have been written. As I sat in the studio with others in the community, listening to Jason sing the song he had just … Read More

A Captain’s Interview with von Braun

Dallas Dorsett MathersJournal1 Comment

I was born on August 21st, 1945 in Havre de Grace, Maryland, 15 days after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and 13 days before Japan surrendered to Allied Forces on September 2nd, ending World War II. My mother told me she had been thinking of naming me “Victoria Joanne” if it turned out I had been born on VJ Day. My father, Loyd Dorsett, was serving in Europe at the time. The Nazis had surrendered on May 8th, VE Day, and many of Germany’s top scientists had chosen to surrender to the Americans instead of the … Read More


William GallowayJournalLeave a Comment


I wish I could live forever—so badly I want to witness the conclusion to our existence on this planet. I want to witness when the last human is sprawled out on the ground, possibly gasping for air, lying in the fetal position, face wrinkled and contorted with a mixture between pain and regret. A face frozen with the expression of someone who knows they are the last one and this great human experiment is done … as soon as they are … done. I wish I could be there amongst the rubble, wandering in awe on how we let our … Read More

Freedom to Assemble

Leilani SquireJournal4 Comments

I wanted to write a post just before the Inauguration, but I didn’t want it to be only about politics (I couldn’t think of anything else), so I pondered and reflected and then I marched on January 21st in the Women’s March on Washington in Los Angeles with 750,000 men, women and children from all walks of life and all ages, from infants to grandmothers. It was exhilarating to be with so many people who were kind and attentive and aware that our freedoms and our rights are at risk. As I was walking my dog the day after millions … Read More


Leilani SquireJournal2 Comments

Inscription written by World War II veteran Clifford Fluck inside personal copy of the book Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose. Many years ago, I was back east visiting family for the holidays. I don’t remember if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I do remember my sister’s house full of family members from both sides. And what I remember most was sitting at the kitchen table with Clifford, my sister’s father-in-law, whom I had just met for the first time. I’ve often since wondered why the time we sat and talked, and sometimes remained silent, is what I remember most … Read More

Pulling a memory

Leilani SquireJournal2 Comments

Pullling a memory

I assign “homework” to the veterans in the writing workshops I facilitate, to encourage them to write between the workshop sessions. Recently, the “homework” topic has been “pulling a memory.” I want them to write about their lives and experience and since holiday season is upon us, someone suggested writing about memories of the season. As I sat to write my homework (I do the homework, too, hoping to set a good example), I felt resistance and heard the inner voice that says so many times, Nah, you don’t want to do that. So I became still and let my … Read More

Little Girl

Leilani SquireJournal6 Comments

Little Girl

Have you ever wondered about the little girl whose father is deployed? What is it like for her to say goodbye, to hug and kiss him one more time—afraid to let him go? Afraid to watch him walk away because she knows in her heart she’ll never see him again. And as he boards a ship, an airplane, a train, he hears her calling out: “Daddy! Daddy! Please don’t leave me!” He glances over his shoulder, and watching her reach her small arms toward him, disappears into the belly of the beast. I bet most of us have never thought … Read More