Pat Read

When Pat Read retired a year ago, she was looking for volunteer opportunities that would keep her involved with veterans. She started with HomeFront Strong at its inception, is matched with two people, and also serves as a trainer.

Read met her first match, a Korean War veteran now in his late 80s, more than a year ago. In addition to providing a crucial social connection — so vital during the pandemic — Read is helping him tell his story through the HomeFront Strong Storytelling Project.

HomeFront Strong (HFS) is a free, confidential, community peer support program available to all service members, veterans, and their families, regardless of service or discharge status. Volunteers are veterans, spouses, parents and other military-connected community members.

A new training cohort starts in late February and applications are open now. Training will be via Zoom from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoons, Feb. 23, March 2, 9, 16, and 23.

Read wanted the veteran’s story to be memorable, effective and respectful, so she set about learning how, from technology to technique.

Her curiosity lead her to Evalogue, a storytelling resource with courses, coaches, group meetings, and more. One thing she’s learned is that “you have to meet them where they’re at,” she said. “They’re sharing things they may not have shared, or even processed. You have to ‘Be The Sponge’.”

Storytelling is a proven method for reducing PTSD that also helps family members, friends and neighbors understand their loved ones better. An integral part of helping the Korean War veteran tell his story was giving their relationship time to develop, she said. “They need to feel control of the process.”

We are proud to be recipients of the Preservation Grants for Veterans’ Collections, Sites, and Memorials, made possible by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts General Court, in addition to the State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB), in 2022 for our HomeFront Strong Storytelling Project!