Humanities Grant to Fund College Veterans Program

PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Community College’s Center for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation and the Veterans and Military Affairs Center have received a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in support of a new program for military veterans and their families. The program, “No Man’s Land: Dialogues on the Experience of War,” will give student veterans and non-veterans the opportunity to reflect on war and military service through a series of discussions and activities.

The grant will help expand the institution’s outreach to its student veterans and the community at-large, according to the interdisciplinary project’s co-directors Thomas LaPointe, associate professor of composition and literature, and John Giaimo, associate professor and licensed professional counselor. The series will explore the intersections of World War I and the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, using humanities resources such as poetry, short stories and excerpts from novels and memoirs, in combination with works of visual art, installation and film.

“This award is an important acknowledgment of the value of the humanities in higher education and the role it plays in developing critical thinking, reasoning and creative approaches to the complex issues of the 21st century,” LaPointe said. “Examining and exploring the experience of war also offers an extraordinary opportunity to engage in discussions about the impact of trauma in our local Bergen community – and globally.”

Set to begin during the spring 2019 semester, a team of trained dialogue leaders comprised of Bergen faculty, staff and external professionals and current or former Bergen students will facilitate open-ended discussions with veterans and non-veterans. The themes of the dialogue series will include deployment, “No Man’s Land” (combat experience) and coming home.

The NEH offers the “Dialogues on the Experience of War” program as part of its current initiative “Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War.” Established in 2015, the highly competitive national grant has been awarded to an average of 15 organizations per year. The program supports the study and discussion of important humanities sources about war, in the belief that these sources can help U.S. military veterans and others think more deeply about the issues raised by war and military service.

There are approximately 130 self-identified student veterans enrolled at Bergen and more than 31,000 veterans who live in Bergen County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2013, the College opened its Veterans and Military Affairs Center at the main campus. Through the center, the College offers veteran-specific counselors and advisers, and information on benefits, events and resources to ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 14,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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