Local vet, documentary film maker to host discussion about war

By CARSON GERBER | Kokomo Tribune, Ind. | Published: June 9, 2016




KOKOMO, Ind. (Tribune News Service) — Susan Hackley said for many veterans, it’s hard to talk about their experiences of war. In fact, the whole topic of war can be difficult to discuss.

But, Hackley said, she wants to change that.

“There is a code of silence sometimes around this issue, and I want to help break that open,” she said.

Hackley, a documentary filmmaker and the managing director at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, has teamed up with local veteran Silouan Green to host a first-of-its-kind event in Kokomo called “A Conversation about War.”

Green said the event is just like it sounds: The two will facilitate an open discussion about war, its national impact and its effects on veterans.

Attendees will have a chance to talk about whatever is on their minds as part of the open-mic format.

Green said a frank conversation about war is more important now than ever since the number of people in the general population who have served is at an all-time low.

He said for many Americans, the wars the U.S. is currently involved in are all but invisible.

“When a nation goes to war, a nation should have a conversation on why we fight, how we fight and what we do when the fighting stops and our troops come home,” Green said. “The public doesn’t talk about this, so we want to start a conversation.”

Green said everyone is invited to participate in the discussion: veterans, soldiers, liberals, conservatives, independents, pacifists, parents, siblings and anyone else with something to say about war.

Hackley already has experience talking to Hoosiers about combat. As the producer and project director of a documentary film project called “A Child’s Guide to War,” Hackley has spent years talking to kids whose parents have served in the military.

Now, she and Green want to bring that discussion to Kokomo.

But why start here?

Green, who lives in Burlington and travels the country speaking about PTSD, said the city is the perfect testing ground to see how this kind of event is received and how much other communities would be interested in participating.

“We hope to do this around the country and wanted to start here in Kokomo to see how it would be received by Middle America,” he said. “We figure if it will fly in Kokomo, it will fly anywhere.”

Hackley said the event will be filmed, and she may use it as part of a video or documentary.

But the event is more than just one-night discussion. She said she hopes it will spur people to have their own debate about war.

“I hope people go home and have their own conversation, because sooner or later, we’ll be talking about going to war again,” Hackley said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a conservative or liberal, these are our wars, and we should be part of the decision and the discussion of how we treat our veterans when they come back.”


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