Florida veterans return to reading at virtual book club
The North Florida / South Georgia VA Medical Library has partnered with Whole Health Service to provide an innovative virtual book club for registered veterans participating in comprehensive health services.
“The goal of the Book Club is to give veterans the resources to stay in touch and continue reading,” said Rochelle Shipman, coach of Whole Health.
The virtual book club started in June 2020 and is offered through VA Video Connect, every two weeks.
Korean War veteran Joseph Sanders said he joined the book club to stay motivated.
” I learned a lot.
“When I got the call to start a book club, I was excited,” Sanders said. “I was reluctant to buy a book and start reading on my own. I learned a lot and benefited from being held accountable to my group.
Since the book club began, veterans have read eight non-fiction books. Books are chosen based on the interest of each group.
Some of the books include “The American Spirit” by David McCullough, “The Power of Servant Leadership” by Robert K. Greenleaf, and “Tough as They Come” by Travis Mills.
For Navy veteran Donald Cooper, the Virtual Book Club has given him another way to interact with people outside of his normal circle of friends and family.
“Being a part of this group is great because it gives me perspective and helps me get through long periods of isolation,” Cooper said.
Shipman believes the book club was successful because of the diversity of the attendees.
“We have members who come from all walks of life, young, old, men, women,” she said. “Each brings a unique perspective to the group, which makes our discussions engaging and interesting. “
“My experiences are going to be different from someone who is 20 years older than me,” Cooper added. “I think it’s great. Looking at things with different filters ultimately changes the way you think and see the world.”
Shipman explained that she ends each book club session on a high note and tries to give the veterans food for thought for their next meeting.
“I don’t like it when everyone in the group agrees with each other during our discussions,” Shipman said. “Sometimes I like to play devil’s advocate and I deliberately disagree with them just to bring out different points of view.”
Book club veterans say the group succeeds thanks to Shipman’s interest in making each session exciting.
“Rochelle goes out of her way to make things work for us,” Sanders said. “She’ll even call me to make sure I’m staying on track. It is a wonderful feeling to care so much about this.
About the North Florida and South Georgia Veterans Health System
The North Florida and South Georgia Veterans Health System is one of the nation’s leading VA health care systems, employing more than 5,800 dedicated healthcare professionals and support staff to provide high quality care for veterans residing in northern Florida and South Georgia.
The organization operates 14 facilities, including two medical centers located in Gainesville and Lake City, a home and clinics located in a service area of 50 counties.