Ron Capps, a U.S. Army intelligence officer and State Department foreign service officer, did. Barely. He served in Darfur, Rwanda, Iraq, Eastern Congo, Afghanistan and Kosovo and was a mess each time he came home. When he finally returned to the U.S. for good, writing was the only thing that could truly bring him home again.
I wrote a lengthy profile of Ron and his fabulous creative writing group, The Veterans Writing Project, and how their work and those of other groups around the country are helping vets process their experiences, whether deeply traumatic or not, and start to live again. Writing gets you out of your head and forces you to put it into a story and provide an explanation of what you experienced.
In my 8,000-word story for the prestigious The Believer magazine, put out by Dave Eggers’ literary house McSweeney’s, I discuss Ron’s trajectory from a struggling active duty Army officer to a well-regarded writing professor who’s helped hundreds of vets around the country improve their health. Writing can help anyone live better whether they served in the military or not.