The War at Home and Abroad project grew out of discussions among faculty in the Department of History at California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM) during the summer and fall of 2011. The CSUSM campus has one of the largest student veteran populations in the state and several faculty in the department noted that these students had returned from service, both at home and abroad, with important stories to tell—that our students had become our teachers. Dr. Patty Seleski, an Associate Dean in the College of Humanities, Arts, Social and Behavioral Science and a Professor of History, had been working with active duty and veteran students for a number of years and suggested that a rich avenue of information rested with the experiences of both service men and women and their families at home. Combined with the foreign policy expertise of Professor Ibrahim Al-Marashi and Professor Kimber Quinney and the digital history specialization of Professor Jill Watts, the idea for the WAHA archive was born.
The first phase of WAHA focuses on gathering the oral histories from veterans at the CSUSM campus community. With a start up grant from a private donor and seed money from the office of the Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies, WAHA in November of 2012 commenced the Story Lab Project, offering campus veterans the opportunity to come in to CSUSM’s Digital History Lab and narrate their life experiences. Additionally, undergraduate and graduate student volunteers have joined in to help design and maintain the website, scan and preserve historical documents related to the recent wars, and edit and archive the veterans stories.
We hope to secure more funding to continue the efforts to gather campus veterans stories as well as expand the project outward. Our goal for the second phase is to begin gathering the oral histories of veterans from the general communities served by CSUSM (including San Diego, Orange, and Riverside Counties) as well as the memories from their families.
The project is indebted to many people who have joined in to make it a success, especially our campus veterans. Our thanks goes out to all.