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Simply listening, to veterans, is the mission of StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative


Have you ever had a “driveway moment” listening to one of the many stories from the oral history project StoryCorps? The project has recorded about 45,000 interviews with everyday people across America. StoryCorps’ “Military Voices Initiatives” gathers stories from veterans, their families and others impacted by war, since 9/11.

And, this week, hosted by the University of Missouri Extension's Community Arts Program, the StoryCorps team members, including Military Voices Initiative Senior Coordinator, Sylvie Lubow, are at KBIA studios, talking with, recording and listening to veterans and their families.

Lubow says the Military Voices Initiative has recorded about 730 interviews with veterans, their families and Americans impacted by war since 9/11. Like all StoryCorps interviews, the process involves two people who know each other interviewing one another. Interview participants receive some tips and sample questions to consider, but then they are left to have a meaningful conversation. From those hundreds of interviews, StoryCorps and the MVI project then select key moments for air on NPR.

“Very few people have actually served,” says Lubow, and she refers to a Pew Research Center study that found that about 80 percent of veterans feel that civilians don’t understand their experiences of war.

Lubow says the Military Voices Initiative addresses this “disconnect” between those impacted by war, and ordinary civilians who often see things in “black and white.” The MVI stories force listeners to hear the “nuances.”

“So part of the impetus to create this program was to really bridge the gap beyond the veteran and civilian communities," says Lubow. "Beyond that, there have been many different testimonials from different people who have served who have said, ‘You know, I want someone to listen to me. You don’t need to pity me. I don’t need to be the hero. I just want someone to listen.’ And that really fits into the mission of StoryCorps. That the act of listening is very powerful.”

You can hear the back story on the Military Voices Initiative, and meet StoryCorps team members. Join KBIA, StoryCorps and the University of Missouri Extension community arts program at 6 tonight at Tucker Forum, in Neff Hall, on the MU campus.

Janet Saidi is a producer and professor at KBIA and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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