Shepherd Bliss, psychology lecturer, presented "My Personal War Story--Before, During, and After Vietnam" on Sun., Nov. 7 at the Petaluma Historical Museum, as part of the ongoing exhibit "The Vietnam Experience, A Soldier's Story."
His story was one of being born into a prominent Southern military family with many generations of service, raised on bases around and outside the United States, and having served in the U.S. Army Reserves during the Vietnam Era.
Bliss discussed, "What does it mean to be a 'military brat?'" Military values such as loyalty, discipline, team-work, a sense of mission, country love, surviving, being orderly, and serving something larger than one's self and how they can be employed in various ways to serve our country, including the pursuit of peace, were also discussed. What can happen in veteran's groups when we gather without judgment to tell our stories and continue being buddies, thus helping us deal with war's after-shocks?
The good work of groups such as the Farmer Veteran Coalition and programs such as "Honoring the Path of the Warrior: Tools for Returning Veterans in the Transition Home," sponsored by the San Francisco Zen Center's Veteran's Project, were described, and poetry written by soldiers was incorporated. Bliss asked the question, "What can we learn from the 20th century global wars and how can we apply these lessons to the emerging 21st century and the growing dangers?"
Bliss has co-taught the War and Peace Lecture Series course at SSU for the last three years. He served in the U.S. Army Reserves during the Vietnam Era, though he did not see combat. He is a long-term member of the Veterans Writing Group, which published the award-winning book "Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace," edited by Maxine Hong Kingston (www.vowvop.org), which includes his essay "Sound Shy."
Shepherd has contributed to over two dozen books, including "Enduring War: Stories of What We've Learned," "Shattered Illusions: Analyzing the War on Terrorism," and "A Quiet Strength." His articles have been published by many publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Press Democrat. He has also appeared on the Oprah, Bill Moyers, and Phil Donahue TV shows and been interviewed by "60 Minutes" and the Wall Street Journal. He has operated the artisan Kokopelli Farm in the Sebastopol countryside for nearly two decades and specializes in agropsychology--farms as healing places. Dr. Bliss is an ordained Methodist minister and serves on the board of an arts and spirituality center at an Episcopal Church in Santa Rosa.