In 2004, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience was created by the NEA to help U.S. troops and their families write about their wartime experiences on the frontlines, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq, and stateside. Operation Homecoming is a landmark partnership between the NEA and the Department of Defense. The program is being conducted with programmatic support from The Writer's Center. Operation Homecoming has been sponsored by a partnership with NEA and The Boeing Company since its inception in 2004. The Boeing Company will support Operation Homecoming programs at Fisher House.
The major components of the program are:
Writing workshops for troops, veterans, and troops receiving rehabilitative therapy -- Since 2004, Operation Homecoming has provided more than 60 writing workshops to troops and their families at more than 30 military installations in the U.S. and overseas, from Camp Pendleton in California to Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. Workshop leaders have included distinguished authors including Tom Clancy, and Bobbie Ann Mason. A later phase brought writing workshops to veterans and active duty troops at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, military hospitals, and affiliated centers in communities around the country. More than 6,000 people have participated in Operation Homecoming workshops and related activities.
In 2012, Operation Homecoming writing workshops will take place as part of a formal medical protocol to help heal service members at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The NICoE is a new facility that provides an interdisciplinary team assessment in a holistic, patient- and family-centered environment, and is dedicated to providing care to service members and their families dealing with the signature wounds from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Psychological Health (PH) conditions. Over a year-long pilot phase, Operation Homecoming at the NICoE will consist of two elements: an expressive writing workshop for troops as part of their clinical rehabilitation, and a more informal four-week creative writing and storytelling series for service members and their families at the Fisher House, the residence for families and patients at Walter Reed. The Boeing Company will support Operation Homecoming programs at Fisher House.
An anthology -- in 2004, the NEA issued an open call for writing submissions to U.S. troops and families worldwide. The call resulted in nearly 2,000 submissions and approximately 12,000 pages of writing, in genres such as memoirs, short stories, poems, and email. In 2006, Random House published nearly 100 of the writings in Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families. The University of Chicago Press released an expanded paperback version in 2008. The critically acclaimed anthology and its contributors have been featured at dozens of book readings, symposia, and conference discussions across the country.
Educational resources -- The Arts Endowment has created a Guide for Writers, an audio CD, and online materials to provide notable samples of wartime writing to help inspire and develop writing skills among military personnel and their families. An estimated 25,000 individuals have used online educational resources (available at www.operationhomecoming.org) or received copies of Operation Homecoming print and audio materials. The program has inspired two award-winning documentaries. Muse of Fire, an educational DVD, was distributed free to military base libraries and educational centers and veterans’ facilities. A second film, Operation Homecoming, aired on PBS in April 2007 as part of the America at a Crossroads series, was nominated for an Academy Award® and received two EMMY® Awards.
Historical archive - Operation Homecoming submissions from the first phase of the program are being preserved in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress.