As an army veteran returning from Iraq in 2007, Sarah LeMire struggled to balance family responsibilities with her pursuit of a master’s degree in English. A few years later, in library school, she found a support network through the campus veterans office. At meetings with the student veterans group, she met people who understood what it was like to leave a war zone and attend college.
In 2014, the American Community Survey reported that an estimated 19.4 million veterans were living in the United States. Libraries, both public and academic, are well positioned to serve the unique needs of this population by offering programming and meeting space, sharing veterans’ stories, and providing the community connections necessary to transition successfully from military to civilian life.
For Chris Brown, being a librarian is about providing “what[ever] information is most valuable and impactful to the public,” something that changes from community to community. While he was working in Contra Costa County, CA, in 2014, that concept led to his finding innovative ways to assist veterans recently returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were having trouble readjusting to civilian life.