Andrew Huber, a liaison specialist in the Veterans History Project, tells us what it’s like to help veterans tell their stories.
Describe your work at the Library.
My work is really a microcosm of all the work the Veterans History Project (VHP) does. Ultimately, what I and my fellow liaison specialists do is introduce people to VHP and teach them how to participate and create collections materials. Our processing team catalogues and preserves those collections, and our librarians and archivists make them available to Library patrons.
This takes many forms and is almost never a solo effort. One day we may be briefing a congressional office so they can do VHP interviews in their district. The next, we might be behind a table at a local veterans resource fair or leading online workshops teaching volunteers how to do oral history. Some days we are in our studio conducting interviews. Many are spent entirely on the phone or writing emails, chasing leads and making arrangements to make all those things happen.
My colleagues and I all have our own strengths and specialties. Lisa Taylor oversees the production of our award-winning public service announcements, Owen Rogers is a board member for oral history in the mid-Atlantic region, and Kerry Ward works with Gold Star families, helping them tell the stories of those who gave their lives in service to our country. I love helping student veterans organize on-campus interview events. But really everyone does a little bit of everything — nothing in VHP is done in a vacuum.
How did you prepare for your position?
I studied anthropology in college, but my previous job helped the most. I worked for a trade association organizing volunteers from member companies to create projects that would help promote the industry. It’s easier to convince someone to spend their weekend recording war stories than it is to convince a materials engineer to spend their weekend in a trade show booth.
What have been your most memorable experiences at the Library?
It’s too hard to choose just one. The most rewarding experiences are when we get to see how our work affects people. I helped a Student Veterans of America chapter at a community college organize an event to interview local veterans, and every business in town had their flyer posted right in the window.
People were so proud to come and tell their stories and so moved that someone cared enough about their service to interview them. There were a lot of hugs and tears. The most satisfying experiences are when a big collaborative effort comes together, like in November when we all worked together to put on a full week of live programming showcasing veterans in the arts. The most unique experience I had was spending a week in the Yakima Nation, learning traditional healing methods for PTSD and interviewing Native veterans.
What are your favorite collection items and why?
Again, there are just too many to pick just one. The very first interview I did was my father, an Air Force veteran, so obviously that one is very special to me. Another is the Wendy Cram collection. Wendy was a skier who qualified for the 1940 Olympics, but when the games were canceled due to the war he was drafted and sent to Colorado to train 10th Mountain Division officers how to ski. He donated a whole photo album documenting his service, which included some very intense fighting in the Italian Alps.
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