Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Military

'War Comes Home' Program in Oceanside Helps Build Understanding

Military veteran Armando Telles shares his experiences with volunteer Jennelise Hafen at Oceanside Public Library, Oct. 2014.
Promise Yee
Military veteran Armando Telles shares his experiences with volunteer Jennelise Hafen at Oceanside Public Library, Oct. 2014.

Over the weekend, a resource fair for veterans in Oceanside included activities for the whole family, including a mini boot camp for kids. It was part of a series of “War Comes Home” programs funded by Cal Humanities to help veterans feel more integrated in the local community.

The Oceanside library has also hosted one-on-one “Listen to Veterans” sessions to help build bridges of understanding between veterans and civilians. Jennelise Hafen, a librarian and volunteer, paired up with veteran Armando Telles.

“You could see when you were talking to him how much things he was saying effected him,” Hafen said. “And that was a powerful part of being able to listen to somebody one-on-one, is that you can get their feelings.”

Advertisement

The idea is based on Paula J. Caplan’s book "When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home."

Caplan’s basic guidelines for listeners are to practice active, nonjudgmental listening. This includes allowing periods of silence. The process opens up communication, and fosters inclusion.

Telles said he shared his experience to help people better understand not only him, but hundreds of fellow vets who are not yet ready to tell their stories.

Volunteer listener Jennelise Hafen listens to military veteran Armando Telles in a one-on-one session at Oceanside Public Library, Oct. 2014.
Promise Yee
Volunteer listener Jennelise Hafen listens to military veteran Armando Telles in a one-on-one session at Oceanside Public Library, Oct. 2014.

“Given that I’ve had about a decade now of coping and transitioning, I’m becoming more comfortable in making my own vulnerability public,” Telles said. “I’m only one life, and there are hundreds of others whose lives are at risk, as a result of their vulnerabilities. If, by one of us being able to speak out about an experience that may not have been socially acceptable, that can change their life, then I’m ready to be that vulnerable person.”

Advertisement

“Listen to Veterans” sessions can still be scheduled on a signup basis at the Oceanside Public Library.

Next month, the library hosts a veterans writing presentation for military service men and women to share their stories of transitioning from military to civilian life.

Corrected: December 8, 2022 at 6:09 AM PST
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Armando Telles' name. We apologize.
Explore all national, state and local returns now.