Writer Jim Littlepage
While creative writing has been a category for four years at the Festival, this is the first time an interaction session was held where artists were able to share their writings with others. On Wednesday evening, several Veterans gathered in the Commerce Ballroom to hear poetry, short stories, and personal experience essays with topics ranging from military life, recovery, PTSD, humor, patriotism, and life's journey. All entries in the 19 categories of the Creative Writing Division that receive first, second, and third place are published in a bounded book and given to contributors.
Jim Littlepage, an Army Veteran who lives in Ozark, Ark., won second place in the Patriotic Short, Short Story category for his work, "Living the Call," writings that he refers to as "rambling – random thoughts about Vietnam." Sharing his poetry with other Veterans helps him make people feel good.
"That's the way I get my welcome home that I never got," said Littlepage
"I want to touch people's lives with the gift God gave me," added Littlepage. Attendees at the Stage Show this week will get the opportunity to hear him speak, as he will be one of two narrators talking about the benefits of the Festival.
Veteran John Koelsch of Salem, Va. said for him writing helps to deal with anger and the pain he dealt with from serving several tours of duty. Koelsch encouraged the older Veterans in the audience to reach out to the younger ones now attending the Festival to support them. He placed first in the Monologue/Duologue category with his entry, "Call of Duty."
By Todd Greenman, public affairs officer, VA Medical Center, Battle Creek, Michigan