Project aims to collect stories of veterans beyond their service years

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There's a new initiative starting up in the QC called Operation Life Preserver.

Looking to collect life stories of those who experienced WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam War, Greg Wilson, who works for the Army Sustainment Command on the Rock Island Arsenal, is focused not only on veterans' service years, but what happened in their lives before and after.

“All the other efforts have solely been concerned with the service aspect of the veteran,” explained Wilson, “and while that’s extremely important, these men and women are not defined solely by their service years. They’re defined by how they live before their service, and then what they did afterwards.”

Wilson said those working on the project were trying to bring veterans in to be interviewed. They are also setting up a network of videographers to reach veterans in other states or far away.

He said some veterans are surprised when they are asked about their non-service years.

“When I talk to them, they expect at first to be simply talking about their service records and some of their experiences and then I start asking about their childhood and they open up because they haven’t been asked... so that gives them a complete picture,” said Wilson.

Wilson’s goal is to eventually gather thousands of veterans’ stories.

Organizers are setting up a fund to get some much-needed financial support. There is an initial goal to raise $30,000.

“The money will be used to pay for the videographers to do the interviews and then reformat the videos, do slight editing, and then to archive and preserve and display the videos up on the website,” Wilson said.

The fundraising was set to begin Monday, May 12, 2014. Click here to learn more about Operation Life Preserver.