Welcome to Veterans Recording Their Stories

The Veterans Recording Their Stories class is being offered to WW II, Korean War, Vietnam, Persian Gulf wars and other military personnel interested in recording their military service experience.  Presently, the class meets every Friday from 12:00 to 2:00 at La Mirada Activity Center.  The purpose of the class is to provide veterans the opportunity to document their military service  through writing or being interviewed using a videocamera and receiving a copy of your interview on a DVD.  A nominal fee is involved for the production of the DVD. The purpose of the class is to preserve the stories of the dutiful, young, heroic men and women of our great country who fought to preserve the liberties and freedom we so enjoy and take pride acknowledging







To structure the interview, a list of chronologically ordered questions is used to guide the interview process. This document will serve to structure your story.  As the interviewee, you are entitled to revise or request I ask additional questions in the interview.  In general, an interview lasts between three and four hours and requires a few sessions to complete.  

Interviewees are asked to bring memorabilia such as medals, photographs and other items to be included in the filming.


The final product you will receive is a DVD containing your interview.  The DVD represents the master from which additional copies can be made.  We are in the process of determining how additional copies of your interview can be made available to you so you can give copies of it to family members.




The facilitator of the class is  Elijah Levy, Ph.D.

Dr. Levy’s doctorate degree is in Clinical Psychology and he is an interdisciplinary thinker, enjoying the synthesis of philosophy, psychology and sociology to examine the science of human behavior.  His clinical work includes being the Program Director and Head of Psychology in inpatient psychiatric facilities treating the persistent, mentally ill suffering from Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Co-Occurring Disorders. He has designed and trained mental health staff  to implement psychiatric rehabilitation programs which reduced the length of stay for the mentally ill and enabled them to lead satisfying lives in residential care programs in the community.


Dr. Levy has been teaching at University of Redlands since 1991 in the undergraduate and graduate school of business. In addition to his role as an Adjunct Professor, he functions as the undergraduate and graduate liaison for the Associate Dean in the School of Business.  In this role, he mentors new faculty, conducts workshops on improving teaching effectiveness and writes curriculum adopted by faculty.  He also teaches psychology courses at Southern California University of Health Sciences to undergraduate students preparing to apply to nursing and medical school.  On several occasions, he has received Excellence in Teaching awards from universities, in addition to being honored for his volunteering activities and distinguished service. Dr. Levy is the director of Founders Outreach, a nonprofit agency providing psychiatric rehabilitation services to 90 mentally ill residents residing at Founders House of Hope, where he has been working since  1997.  He designed the psychiatric/psychosocial rehabilitation program, in addition to the supported employment program being implemented at Founders.  


Dr. Levy is the director of The Levy Launch a center providing corporate training, management consultation and start-up support to nonprofit agencies.  He has written countless articles on creative aging, lifestyle modification, comparative religion, the cultural foundations of heroism, intercultural awareness/cultural pluralism and the American cultural experience. 


Dr. Levy has written curriculum for numerous courses in addition to handbooks.  He is the author  two books, one on intercultural awareness titled You, Me and Them, a book of poetry titled Crisis in Meaning, and he has edited an anthology of poetry written by individuals with mental illness titled Pages Left to Turn: Poetry by Restless Minds.  In 2007, Dr. Levy and a colleague produced a documentary on mental illness titled Beyond the Shadow of Mental Illness and he collaborated on a documentary of a Veterans Legacy Project group that he facilitates.  Since 2011, Dr. Levy and his brother Josef Levy have been training police officers how to more effectively communicate with the homeless, mentally ill in the community.  To date, they have trained over 4,000 officers in Southern California and they have received very positive and favorable evaluations of their workshop. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​



Why You Need to record Your Military Service Experience


Stories and rituals embedded in oral histories has served a survival function for cultures by teaching and uniting individuals to create a community of everlasting memory. History is shaped by stories revealing true heroism; overcoming what seem to be insurmountable barriers—miracles and drama of the human condition. Oral histories document for the listener first hand accounts of transformative, epic events and how these experiences changed our lives. Without stories to inspire us to live meaningful lives we might feel alienated and lonely. Listening to oral histories can potentially change your life, increase your understanding of self and others. Story telling can also foster empathy, unity and engender feelings of belongingness. In contemporary American culture one can feel alienated from their community of living.


If you can reminisce you can share your story. What does reminiscing mean? Reminiscing is as natural as walking. It means thinking back in time, remembering who you were and who you’ve become. As you think back in time, remember what experiences influenced your development and transformation into who you are today. To reflect on who you want to become you must have the capacity to reminisce and run a thread from who you were to who you are now. The process of oral history taking actually empowers you by revealing how significant your life was and presently is. Individuals feeling insignificant admit to being disempowered, unable to make choices to lead self-determined lives. As older adults we want to feel empowered because empowerment means having a sense of well-being, knowing that your life has meaning.


Documenting an oral history gives you a unique opportunity to talk in your language about your entire life, beginning with your earliest memory. Stories composing your life have historical importance because they are first hand accounts of meaningful events which may include how your family celebrated a holiday with a special ritual. We need to know about this ritual before it fades away forever, untold and forgotten. Stories from your oral history represent treasures for your family and friends. Viewers will discover aspects of yourself rarely seen and talked about that adds to your unique character. Sharing your oral history will preserve for eternity your place in the history of humankind. Your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will cherish knowing how you overcame difficulties, were resilient and how your life changed as a result of it. Our lives are transformed by the myriads of curve balls thrown at us at fast speeds. How we swung and missed, and when we smacked the fast balls out of the park are stories begging to be heard and placed in a historical context of your life. Your transforming life moments will reveal your potentialities and vulnerabilities, and will inspire others for generations. In oral histories you offer invaluable advice to younger generations, in addition to responding to questions such as “Why do we become more spiritual as we age?” “What are some of your metaphors for life?” “What does living a life of significance mean?” How do we attain meaning and purpose in life?”


As the listener I am curious to know what represents your most meaningful life lessons—and why. At the core of the human experience is the need to talk about why you’re an important human being, and why your oral history matters to your family and community of memory. It matters because you are a significant human being and it validates your life. Oral history taking is a life affirming experience; it’s an opportunity to reinforce that your life has been worthwhile, righteous and will continue to be rich in meaning. It is incumbent upon the older generations to hand over the baton to us. In our relay of life you transfer the wisdom and history to your family and community. A community of memory.


As the recipient of these gifts we will transfer the baton to our children and their children. It is this intergenerational process that enables our culture to survive. Life stories carry lessons for us to understand how life can be uncertain and unforgiving, why and how we are all vulnerable and they draw us closer to the collective conscious. I suspect that the reason we like story telling is also because human beings enjoy talking about themselves in genuine, revealing ways. We may not like admitting it, but we like talking about our life and work. Human beings desire to be understood and known. Known in a pure, unblemished way that only you can articulate

Documentary: "When John Comes Home"
Video recordings of our Veterans
John Hitchens
Chuck Geitner
Ted Garcia
Larry Torres
Larry McCollum
Jean Higa: Witness to Pearl Harbor
Tom Rosholt, Larry McCollum,John Widosh
Sue McDougall























Memoir of Vietnam service experience by John Adame

I came up with the title "Where's the Music" because as a boy growing up watching John Wayne and Audie Murphy win World War II on the movie screen or television with their heroics punctuated by a musical background. In my first experience with the sting of battle, I wondered where was the music that was supposed to accompany the action happening around me. As a result, I learned that in real battle there is no music-only fear.

The first awareness I had with the results of war was when I was very young. It was at a military funeral for a soldier who had died in combat in the Korean War. I really did not have any idea what was taking place, but I recall soldiers in uniform and the sound of the 21-gun salute, the sounds of the trumpet, and the constant crying. After the service, my parents and I traveled to the home of the dead soldier. As we entered the home, I spotted a portrait of the dead soldier, and as the people passed the portrait, they stopped momentarily and continued into the home. The second took place while we were visiting my maternal grandmother's house. I made my way to one of the bedrooms, and on the bed was a military uniform (my Uncle Chava's Marine uniform). I do not know if he was on his way to or coming home from Korea. All this had been forgotten until the last few years. War and the military were only experienced through John Wayne movies. Family involvement was occasionally mentioned. I remember my grandfather, Abundio, wearing a large heavy coat, which I later learned belonged to one of my uncles while in the service. I knew I had uncles who had fought in World War II and Korea but never heard any war stories. Playing war games and fighting to play John Wayne was just part of a young boy's life. Watching the news of wars on television and newsreel film on the movie theater screen made war a thing that was done in far off lands. As I grew up, I learned of a war in a far off land called Vietnam. I read "Deliver Us from Evil" by Dr. Tom Dooley. It was about his experiences with people in Vietnam during the post-French, Indochina war, and the splitting the country into the communist north and the free south. I later learned that he had influenced President John Kennedy to help the South Vietnamese people. As time went on, I heard more and more about this war in Vietnam.

Biographies of our  Veterans