One of the most significant portions of the Veterans Empathy Project is the building of empathy itself among citizens that know little of war’s reality or its impact upon those who live the life of a solider. This is reinforced within the mission statement created by the project’s director Dr. John Pettegrew: “This is an oral history of combat veterans’ experience in the post-September 11th wars. It is named the Veterans Empathy Project because it seeks to help bridge the huge gap of understanding in the United States today between civilians who never served in the military and the 100,000s of veterans who fought and killed and risked life and limb for their country.” This lesson hopes to not only educate young people about the drama of war, but also build compassion for those who have endured the risk of looking one’s life in service of the United States of America.
In seeking to stimulate thought and discussion among young people of war and military service, we provide below a number of lesson plans for high school classrooms that can be used in full or adapted to your needs.
As the new age of warfare is shaped by the world around us, it becomes far too easy for our world to become detached from the experiences of soldiers occurring overseas. This lesson seeks to help students create connections with “over there” through word association: terms they have heard and perhaps used over the course of their life but might be further explored through a combination of self-reflection and exposure to unique perspectives of those who have experienced twenty-first century combat first hand.