FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Literature is a popular escape from daily stress, and facilitators of an upcoming program hope to provide an opportunity for Soldiers and veterans to decompress and form new bonds using reading.

The program, Literature and the Veteran Experience, begins Aug. 29 at 5:30 p.m. in the Center Library.

"Literature and the Veteran Experience is a program intended to provide veterans and active-duty members an environment where they can discuss various reading selections, share experiences and connect with other veterans," Jodi Wilcox, Center Library reference librarian, said. "Attendees will have the chance to discuss readings, chosen from a list of titles, to include a novel, short fiction, poetry, letters and personal accounts, and share the insights and ideas prompted by the reading.

"Attendees are welcome to create connections between their own personal experience and others, but they will not be pressured to share their experiences," she added.

Registration is open to active-duty Soldiers and veterans, and limited to the first 15 participants. Refreshments will be provided.

The program is co-hosted by the Center Library and the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

"It was important for Center Library to host this event for our veterans and active duty members to provide an opportunity to connect with others who have had similar encounters," Wilcox said. "Veterans often feel isolated, as society outside the military often fails to understand or properly support those within the military. This program offers current and former soldiers an opportunity to share stories, discuss life and to explore topics of interest to them, without the danger of being misunderstood."

According to Wilcox, the discussion will be led by Army veteran Gilbert Liddell.

"Veterans, retirees and active-duty Soldiers who have served a tour might not feel comfortable talking about their experiences with civilians or others who have not been in combat or war," she said. "This program offers the opportunity for these individuals to create connections with those who understand and have been through similar circumstances.

"Literature can offer a chance for veterans, retirees and Soldiers to discuss how their stories are similar to the readings," she added. "When people have been through traumatic situations, it helps them to know that they're not alone. Literature can sometimes give people the words necessary to discuss or process hard things. And, sometimes, it is just fun to read stories and discuss them with friends."

Individuals interested in attending the program need only bring an open mind, Wilcox said.

"Soldiers and veterans who attend will not be pressured or expected to share their stories," she said. "This program is not intended to be a therapy session or a class, but an opportunity for them to make meaningful connections through exploration of literature.

"Those who do not feel comfortable attending the meeting, but would like to still share their stores may call me to get the contact information of the facilitator," she added.

For more information about the program or to register, call 255-3885 or visit the Center Library.