While Capps comes to the program as a professional writer and teacher, he also brings a very personal perspective to Operation Homecoming. [1:42]
Ron Capps: I like to say that I wrote myself home. I was in the Army for 25 years, about half of that on active duty and about half of that as a reservist. While I was a reservist, I was also a foreign service officer at the State Department. That was my civilian job. Between those two careers, I ended up going to five different wars in ten years. I went from Rwanda to Kosovo to Afghanistan then to Iraq and then to Darfur, all sequentially, all with very short breaks in between. I came away from all that really badly traumatized. I was treated in Afghanistan for post-traumatic stress disorder but, because I got the treatment, because I was in treatment there, I was able to complete my tour safely but I came back from Afghanistan and, six months later, I landed in Iraq. I came back from Iraq and, about six months later, I was in Darfur. And, on my second year in Darfur, during my second year there, I had some real problems. I was suicidal, ended up being medically evacuated, sent home. What I was able to do, through writing, was to work through my own problems. I didn't really know what I was doing. I was sort of treating myself alone but I figured it out, and what worked for me was being able to shape those memories, to control them myself by writing about them. And so, by writing about these stories over and over again, and shaping them into a way that I understood them, I could make sense of them. They're no longer as traumatic as they used to be and I can now manage it myself. And so, as a part of wanting to give back what I've learned, I founded the Veteran's Writing Project and now I'm working with Operation Homecoming at NICoE and working on a lot of other ways of giving this information away.