Editor's note: The cost for the two-day conference has been updated. The price is $70, with a 50 percent discount for military veterans and no charge for current Virginia Tech students. Participants may register online and find more information and schedule updates on the Veterans in Society¹s website.

A reading from Sophocles’ classical tragedy “Ajax” by an acclaimed theatre troupe will highlight the second Veterans in Society conference April 27-28 in Roanoke.

Sponsored by Virginia Tech’s Center for the Study of Rhetoric in Society, the two-day event is built on the theme “Humanizing the Discourse.” The aim is to explore the role of the arts, humanities, and social sciences in addressing veterans’ issues and related research.

“We hope to foster increasingly mature dialogue regarding veterans, which requires recognizing the individual humanity of the people who can sometimes be forgotten behind headlines and statistics,” said Jim Dubinsky, associate professor of rhetoric and writing at Virginia Tech and a retired U.S. Army officer with 28 years of service.

Outside the Wire, a New York-based theatre troupe that uses a variety of media to address public health and social issues, will open the conference with readings from “Ajax.” Though written in the fifth century B.C., this account of a soldier’s psychological struggles is relevant to contemporary social issues. The reading will be followed by a town hall discussion about combat stress, alcohol and substance abuse, the impact of war on military families, and related topics.

Funded in part by the Pentagon, Outside the Wire has performed on U.S. military bases and for civilian audiences across the U.S., in Europe and Asia. Joining the troupe for the conference will be Associate Professor Susanna Rinehart and other Virginia Tech actors, and the group’s creative director and founder, Bryan Doerries.

Other presentations will include:

  • Scenes from the film “Brats: Our Journey Home.” The documentary’s writer and director, Donna Musil, will speak about the film, which describes growing up in a military family.
  • A panel discussion titled “Support Our Troops? A Community in Dialogue.” The panel will feature Associate Professor Steven Salaita of the Department of English; Col. John Montgomery of the Air Force ROTC; Gil Ott, Vietnam veteran; and Eric Hodges, Ph.D. candidate and veteran. This session will explore language choices used to describe the military.
  • A screening of the film “Where Soldiers Come From,” winner of the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award, along with a presentation by Heather Courtney, the film’s director.

The two-day conference will be held at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. The cost is $100, with a 25 percent discount for military veterans and no charge for current Virginia Tech students. The fee after April 6 is $125, with on-site registration available. Hotel rooms are available for $129 a night (single) and $149 (double).

Participants may register online and find more information and schedule updates on the Center for the Study of Rhetoric in Society’s website.

Sponsors include Virginia Tech's Office of the Provost, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Pamplin College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, College of Natural Resources and Environment, Administrative Services, Alumni Relations, Diversity and Inclusion, the Graduate School, Outreach and International Affairs, the Student Success Center, Department of Human Resources, Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance, Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement, Department of English, Veterans@VT, Stonewall Jackson Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, The Armstrong Family Foundation, Dr. Peter Weimerskirch, Col. Brittain Mallow, and the Virginia Tech Center for the Arts.

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