have courage. take heart. bear witness.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The general scope of The Soldiers & Civilians Project is to provide a forum for inquiry, reflection, and dialogue about the true nature of military service and the impact of warfare and other military actions on the personal lives of those most directly affected. You can contribute to the project in many ways—by listening to the voices of the soldiers and civilians who recount their experiences here, recording a conversation for the project, emailing us to share your views, and spreading the word on Facebook or other social media.

One of the most important ways to contribute is simply to talk with, and listen to, someone who fits one of the descriptions below.

Who can make a recording with The Soldiers & Civilians Project?

You are welcome to record if you:

If your situation is not described above, and you feel it would be relevant to the project's scope, please feel free to contact us at contact@soldiersandcivilians.org.

How can I record with The Soldiers & Civilians Project?

If you would like to record a conversation for The Soldiers & Civilians Project, please send us an email with your request. Let us know where you live (city/state), how best to contact you, what you would generally like to talk about in the recording, and why you would like to participate in the project.

Can I make a recording anonymously, or do I have to identify myself?

That depends. The Soldiers & Civilians Project does not require participants to identify themselves in the recording. You may use a pseudonym or no name at all. If you choose to make your recording public (radio broadcast, podcast, web site clips), you will need to sign The Soldiers & Civilians Audio Documentary Project Assignment and Release Agreement, but any personal information on this form will be kept strictly confidential.

However, if you are a veteran of US military service who wants your recording added to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress, you will need to complete the Biographical Data Form for that project, which asks for your name, contact information, and information about your military service.

Is the project open only to US military service members and civilians?

The Soldiers & Civilians Project is open to anyone interested in contributing a conversation that falls within the project's scope. Given our limited budget and staff, however, we are not able to provide translation services at this time. So, unless you can also provide a translator for your conversation, it must be conducted in English.

What should I talk about?

You are free to talk about whatever you wish within the broad scope of The Soldiers & Civilians Project, keeping in mind that the project's purpose is to contribute to our collective knowledge and understanding of the true nature of military service and the ways in which warfare changes people's lives.

We suggest that you give some thought to the events that were of greatest significance to you, or the people who influenced you most strongly. You might also consider addressing issues raised in other Soldiers & Civilians recordings or on our blog.

What is the format of the interview? Can I just talk, or will I be answering questions?

You are free to approach the conversation in whatever way makes sense to you. If you feel more comfortable answering questions posed to you by an interviewer, we can work with you beforehand to develop questions you would like to address. If you have a pretty good idea of what you want to say in the recording, and simply want to start talking, you are welcome to do so.

Often, questions arise during the course of the conversation in follow-up to something that has been said. Whether or not you respond to a particular question is up to you—you are not obliged to answer any question.

Unless you prefer not to identify yourself, we begin a recording with each participant stating his or her name, the date, the location of the recording, and the relationship to whomever else is making the recording—for example, a mother and a daughter.

Who will interview me?

That's up to you. You might want to be interviewed by someone you know well (see, for example, Shanley and Mary Geddry's recording), or you might prefer that someone from The Soldiers & Civilians Project interview you (eg, Patrick Lowe's recording). Or, if there are two of you who would like to respond to interview questions, that can also be arranged (eg, David Houppert and Tom Berger's recording).

Can I stop the recording at any time?

Yes. You can stop the recording at any time, for any reason—whether to end the session or simply to take a break.

Where will the recording take place?

We use high-quality, portable recording equipment and generally record in people's homes or offices. The ideal environment is a quiet room buffered from outdoor and other indoor sounds, such as air conditioning systems, ringing telephones, and the like. If conditions are not ideal, very good recordings can, nevertheless, be made. Sometimes, background sounds can even add to the interest of the recording.

Do I have to sign the release form?

No. Signing the release form is voluntary, and is not done until after you have completed your recording. You may decide to release all or part of a recording. If you choose not to sign the Assignment and Release Agreement, we will not keep a copy of your recording and will not be able to make you a CD copy of your recording.

Can I request that the The Soldiers & Civilians Project stop distributing or publicly performing my recording in the future?

Yes. If you no longer want your recording made public, you will need to send us a written request, with your signature, stating your wishes, and we will honor your request.

Please be aware that in honoring your request, we will be able to remove all or parts of your recording ONLY from The Soldiers & Civilians Project web site. We cannot retrieve copies of your recording that might have been distributed, including copies accepted into the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress, or copies that were recorded to CDs and distributed, or that were downloaded or otherwise captured from the web site. Also note that by complying with this request, The Soldiers & Civilians Project does not waive any of the rights conferred to it under the Release Agreement.

For this reason, we encourage you to give careful thought to the Assignment and Release Agreement before signing it.

If you choose not to sign the Assignment and Release Agreement, we will not keep a copy of your recording and will not be able to make you a CD copy of your recording.

Before an edited version of my recording is made public on the web (or through any other medium), will I get a chance to approve it?

If you wish, we can let you know in advance how we have edited your recording. If you object to any of our editorial decisions, we will make every effort to accommodate you, although the release form you sign specifies that we are not required to do so. It is our intention to honor the wishes of all Soldiers & Civilians participants whenever possible.

Will an unedited version of my recording be made public?

We may decide to post what we call full-length versions of recordings. These may be lightly edited and will closely resemble the conversation as you recorded it, so that listeners can get a sense of how it unfolded, the connections between seemingly unrelated topics, and other elements present in real-time conversation that we may have chosen to exclude from the edited clip.

Can I make my own audio recording and send it to The Soldiers & Civilians Project?

At some point, we hope to be able to accommodate recordings made by participants using their own equipment. However, we are not able to do so now.

Nevertheless, we encourage you to consider making your own audio recordings. When you approach a conversation with attention and a keen interest, it can become an important touchstone for you and for others in your family, including future generations—so they can listen to you recount, in your own voice, what you experienced and what those experiences meant to you.

I would like to respond directly to one of the people who recorded a conversation. How can I do that?

Contact information for participants is kept confidential. However, you can send your message to contact@soldiersandcivilians.org, and we will forward it to the person you are addressing. Needless to say, we will not forward any message that contains insulting, abusive, or threatening language.

Do you check the accuracy of the stories and statements recorded for The Soldiers & Civilians Project?

For the most part, Soldiers & Civilians participants focus their conversations on personal experience—their own or that of someone close to them. We present these accounts essentially as they have been recalled and recounted by the speakers. Personal accounts generally reflect the speaker's perspective, bias, and memory, along with their knowledge and understanding. Recordings are usually posted to The Soldiers & Civilians Project web site in an edited form, in which we take care to honor the intention and meaning of the original, unabridged recording.

We also make efforts to accompany posted recordings with resources such as web links to other, relevant, sites in order to provide context or additional information related to the interview's content. For example, a number of Soldiers & Civilians participants talk about traumatic effects of combat stress disorder, so we include links to the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorders (NCPTSD) and other sites and resources that might prove useful.

In addition, we may research some statements, such as those regarding statistical information. For example, a participant might state that a certain percentage of homeless individuals are veterans. We make efforts to verify or correct that statement by consulting reliable sources. At the same time, we acknowledge that some information may be difficult to verify precisely, regardless of the source, and that conclusions are sometimes reached as a result of relying on estimates or extrapolations from the available data.

Then there is the matter of what can be called emotional truth, which is another way of saying that memory and imagination can contain more elements of truth than mere facts do. Though details of a story as recounted by the speaker might vary to some degree from what occurred, it may be that the speaker has indeed rendered the truth of the matter in terms of meaning, significance, and emotion. In that case, authority lies with the speaker.