“We Band of (Civilian) Sisters” by Dana Zimbleman
In March, I had the privilege of attending the Association of Writing Programs and Professionals (AWP) conference in San Antonio, Texas, with several of my English faculty colleagues. Unfortunately, many events were canceled because of fears over COVID. The early predictions were horrifying and suggested that as many as two million Americans might die from the virus. Many in our group considered the trip a bust for professional development. Still, we enjoyed our time on the Riverwalk as a final outing before the dreaded pandemic struck in full force.
For me, however, the trip was one of the most beneficial of my professional career because I got to know my colleague/Parley sponsor, Sarah McMahon, much better and talk with her about collaborating on a project I’ve thought about for ten years. With the institution’s close affiliation with the military and so many student veterans entering our doors, I thought it was time we allowed the members of our veteran community to tell their stories.
As I walked around the Book Fair with Sarah and heard colleagues from four-year institutions praise her work on Parley, I suspected I had an ally who could help me bring my idea to fruition.
We partnered with Paul DeCecco and the staff of Military and Veterans Programs to make this new journal, SITREP, possible.
Although we’re civilians, we’ve worked smoothly together, like a well-disciplined military unit. Partnering with Sarah on this project has helped me understand to some small degree the camaraderie soldiers feel trying to achieve an objective under stressful circumstances. And make no mistake, this year has been a battle for most of us. My mother died in May, suffering from EBC (everything but COVID) in an Alabama nursing home. I was not allowed to see her in the final three months of her life. I hope she did not leave this earth feeling we had abandoned her. A child of the Depression, she was born in 1938, the same year of Hitler’s Anschluss, and died in equally turbulent times. Sarah has also faced some stressful challenges this year herself but has amazed me with her boundless energy and enthusiasm.
As I write this, my uncle, Harold Posey, retired U.S. Army Senior Master Sergeant, fights for his life in an Alabama hospital, another COVID battlefield casualty. Uncle Harold has been like a father to me since my own dad died in 2013. I’d like to dedicate this edition of SITREP to him and other veterans—military and non-military alike—in mortal combat with this terrible virus.
This inaugural issue of SITREP—or “situation report” in military lingo—features contributions from students, faculty, and staff affiliated in some way with the military. Some are pro-military. Some express ambivalence about the armed forces. Some explore problems like sexual harassment and assault in the military that have not been adequately addressed. It’s an eclectic mix of perspectives that reflect the varied viewpoints of our active duty and retired service personnel.
We wish all who serve and have served in the United States Armed Forces a happy Veterans Day.