In frustration over the lack of knowlege and connection they felt with the experience of returning veterans, Kim Shelton and Bill McMillan, spouses and co-directors of the Welcome Home Project, conceived of this program in order to become more involved and to offer a way for our local community to actively participate in the return of our soldiers.
We contacted Michael Meade to see if he would be interested in bringing his genius for working with myth, stories and traumatized communities into work with veterans. He and his foundation, the Mosaic Multicultural Foundation, co-sponsored the program in May, 2008. He then led the Memorial Day, 2008 retreat and will continue to offer similar retreats to veterans in locations around the country. (see www.mosaicvoices.org)
The Mission of the Welcome Home Project is to bridge the historic gap between veterans (including their families) and the civilian communities in which they live. We will use the film The Welcome in local communities around the country to catalyze dialogue, to raise awareness and to spur direct involvement by civilians. It is also our goal to promote:
- Local communities coming together to create significant welcoming ceremonies of their own, so that the veteran’s truths and traumas can be witnessed, heard and better understood by the general public.
- Communities of other veterans who can share experiences and support one another in ways that no one else can, because they have been there.
- Frameworks that help vets create meaning from their experiences, whether they be myths, religious traditions, the arts, rituals, or stories of other vets.
- Other important programs around the country that support veterans and their families.
Core Staff of the Original Welcome Home Project, May, 2008
Bill McMillan has been a marriage and family therapist for more than 20 years. He has focused his work on adolescents, families, couples, abuse and trauma, rites of passage and stress reduction. He is currently focusing his work on veterans and their reintegration into civilian life.
Kim Shelton has been making award winning documentaries for twenty five years. Her films, A Great Wonder, Lost Borders, Tuscarora, Cowboy Poets and The Highly Exhalted, have been broadcast nationally and internationally on PBS, POV, National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, BBC and on stations in Europe, Australia, Japan and New Zealand. For more information, please check the following websites: Bullfrogfilms.com, LostBorderspress.com, and Folkstreams.net.
Michael Meade is a renowned storyteller, author, scholar of mythology and student of ritual in traditional cultures. He has worked with Veterans, street gangs, Native Americans, prisoners, refugees and the homeless as each group has struggled with isolation and the perception that they do not belong, that there is no "home" here. (the Mosaic Multi-Cultural Foundation was co-sponsor of the Ashland retreat.)
Peggy Rubin is Founding Director of the Center for Sacred Theater in Ashland, OR and is the principal teaching associate of Jean Houston, Ph.D. Her work with different cultures around the world along with her deep intuitive understanding of the role of theater and ritual in healing cultural wounds makes her a vital welcoming voice in work with returning veterans.
Michael J. Maxwell, MS has spent the last thirty years working with combat veterans. In the late 70's he helped develop and implement the first Vet Center in Oregon. He worked at the Portland Vet Center for eight years as a therapist and then as the Team Leader. In 1987 he left the Vet Center to join the Portland VA Medical Center staff to help develop PTSD programs for combat veterans. Mr. Maxwell retired from full time employment with the VA in 2006 and is currently involved in training, consultation and program development. He is a Vietnam era vet having served in the Army from 1971 to 1973.
Carl Robinson, LCSW, served in the army in Vietnam for two and a half years and has been working with veterans for more than twenty five years. As a Native American himself, he has focused much of his work on the spiritual recovery of combat veterans, using Native American and other healing ceremonies to support the deeper healing of veterans and their families. He has also been a mentor to many young therapists now working with veterans in the Portland area, as well as ourtreach coordinator for Native American veterans.
Lauren McLagen, LCSW, began working with veterans in 1997 and now works in the Salem, OR Vet Center, as a part of the Readjustment and Transition Team. Specializing in groups and families dealing with PTSD issues, she also has experience working with women and Military Sexual Trauma, family adjustment issues and support.