The VVA Veteran Online Video Series

Dispatches
“Dispatches,” hosted by The VVA Veteran arts editor Marc Leepson, is a series of one-on-one interviews with a writer, novelist, actor, director, or other artist whose work is influenced by the Vietnam War.

Dispatches, Episode 25,
May 22, 2024:
Here is Episode 25 of our “Dispatches” video series. In this lively interview, Arts Editor Marc Leepson talks with in Alice McDermott, one of the nation’s most distinguished novelists, whose 1997 novel, “Charming Billy,” received the National Book Award for Fiction. They will be discussing her highly acclaimed new novel, “Absolution,” which is set primarily in Saigon during the fateful Vietnam War year of 1963 and includes two significant GI characters, a selfless Army Doctor, and a good-hearted EM named Dominic who works in an Army hospital. [30:49]

Dispatches, Episode 24,
April 26, 2024:
Here is Episode 24 of our “Dispatches” video series. In this lively, informative interview, Arts Editor Marc Leepson talks with former Washington Post foreign correspondent Charlie Trueheart about his brilliant new book, Diplomats at War: Friendship and Betrayal on the Brink of the Vietnam Conflict. This one-of-a-kind, revealing look at the crucial years (1961-63) of the war is a deft blend of solid historical research, compelling writing, and insightful analysis, along with an intriguing and consequential family story. [32:37]

Dispatches, Episode 23,
March 20, 2024:
Here is Episode 23 of our “Dispatches” video series. In this lively interview Arts Editor Marc Leepson interviews Kristin Hannah, the prolific, best-selling author of 19 novels, whose books have been translated into 43 languages. He’ll be talking to her about “The Women,” her new novel, which shot to the top of all the bestseller lists when it came out February 6 and has remained there ever since. It’s the compelling story of a young woman who joins the Army Nurse Corps at twenty and within months finds herself in just about the worst that war can offer in an evac hospital in South Vietnam—as well as what she faced after coming home from the war. [27:04]

Dispatches, Episode 22,
February 28, 2024:
Here is Episode 22 of our “Dispatches” video series. In this lively interview, Arts Editor Marc Leepson talks with Jack McLean, the author of two outstanding Vietnam War memoirs, “Loon, (2009),” the account of a vicious battle he and his fellow Marines took part in Vietnam in March 1968, and his 2023 memoir “Found.” Thae new book contains flashbacks to what happened to McLean in Vietnam, as he covers the shameful treatment he received after coming home from the war; his battles with the VA over the benefits he earned; and his long quest to reunite with the men he served with in Vietnam and the son and wife of one of his best buddies, Tom Morrissey, who was killed at LZ Loon. [37:13]

Dispatches, Episode 21,
November 27, 2023:
Here is Episode 21 of our “Dispatches” video series, a lively interview by Arts Editor Marc Leepson with Peter Pritchard, one of the nation’s top journalists who, among other things, has been a sportswriter, police and courts reporter, TV columnist, feature writer, and op. ed. page editor. He was USA Today’s editor in chief from 1988-94, and went on to run the great Washington, D.C., journalism museum, the Newseum. A life member of Vietnam Veterans of America, Peter was drafted into the Army in 1967 and spent a tour of duty in Vietnam working in intelligence in 1968-69. In the upcoming episode, he discusses his military service, his journalism career, and his new novel, “Killing Grace: A Vietnam War Mystery,” which we reviewed in the November/December Books in Review column in the magazine. [30:28]

Dispatches, Episode 20,
October 3, 2023:
Here is Episode 20 of our “Dispatches” video series, a lively interview by Arts Editor Marc Leepson with Bill McCloud, the award-winning writer, poet, and educator best known for his book, “What Should We Tell Our Children About Vietnam,” which he wrote while preparing to teach a class on Vietnam War history at Pryor Junior High in Oklahoma in the ‘80s and has since become a Vietnam War literary classic. Bill is a life member of VVA who served in Vietnam with the 147th Assault (Support) Helicopter Company in 1968-69. He tells the surprising story of why and how he joined the Army and the unlikely backstory of how “What Should We Tell Our Children” came about, discusses the impact of the war on his poetry and much more about his eventful literary and academic life.. [38:24]

McCloud  

Dispatches, Episode 19,
May 29, 2023:
Here is Episode 19 of our “Dispatches” video series, a lively interview by Arts Editor Marc Leepson with Henry Threadgill, the acclaimed jazz composer, saxophonist and flutist who served a tour of duty with the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division in the Vietnam War. The Pulitzer-Prize-winning musician will discuss growing up in Chicago, getting drafted, how he wound up in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry band—and also carrying an M-16—how his tour of duty influenced his musical career, and his terrific new autobiography, Easily Slip into Another World: A Life in Music. [30:44]

 

Dispatches, Episode 18,
May 29, 2023:
Here is Episode 18 of “Dispatches,” our video interview series. In this episode, Arts Editor Marc Leepson talks to Harvey Pratt, the renowned artist and sculptor best known for creating the striking National Native American Veterans Memorial at the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. A Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal member, Harvey Pratt joined the U.S. Marine Corps in and put in a 1963-64 Vietnam War tour of duty with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion at Da Nang Airbase working in air rescue and base security. He will discuss his Vietnam War experiences, his forensic work with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, his artwork, and the story behind the memorial. [35:24]

 

Dispatches, Episode 17,
April 30, 2023:
Arts Editor Marc Leepson interviews the acclaimed photographer, artist, author, and storyteller Jessica Hines about her stunning book, “My Brother’s War,” a powerful artistic remembrance of her brother Gary, who was drafted into the Army and served with the 178th and 132nd Assault Helicopter companies in Chu Lai. After coming home from Vietnam, Gary Hines took his own life in 1980. “My Brother’s War” is both Jessica Hines’ tribute to her brother and an attempt to come to terms with his loss. [29:31]

 

Dispatches, Episode 16,
March 27, 2023:
In this episode, Vietnam War veteran Diane Carlson Evans, who served as a U.S. Army nurse in Vietnam and later was the driving force behind the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, discusses her intense tour of duty; her adjustment problems after she came home; the amazing story of her successful fight to have a memorial to the American women who served in the Vietnam War installed on the National Mall in our Nation’s Capital; and much more. [35:33]

 

Dispatches, Episode 15,
February 26, 2023:
In this episode, Vietnam War veteran Homer Hickam, the prolific, best-selling author best known for his acclaimed memoir, “Rocket Boys,” fills us in on growing up in Coalwood, West Virginia; his topsy-turvy tour of duty as a young U.S. Army Lieutenant with the Fourth Infantry Division in 1967-68 and much, much more. [31:13]

 

Dispatches, Episode 14,
January 23, 2023:
Oral historian and archivist Joseph Carpenter at the Vietnam Center and Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech University fills us in on the many facets of the Center’s enormous archival collection of Vietnam War materials. [17:42]

 

Dispatches, Episode 13,
December 19, 2022:
Jan Scruggs—the founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund who conceived of the Memorial and led the effort that culminated in The Wall's dedication 40 years ago—tells his Vietnam War story, as well as the inside story of how The Wall evolved from an idea he had in 1978 to its dedication on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1982. [32:36]

Scruggs

Dispatches, Episode 12,
November 22, 2021:
Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist Viet Nguyen discusses his 2015 novel, “The Sympathizer,” a beautifully-crafted tale that deals with the Vietnam War and its postwar political and social landscape; and the 2021 sequel, “The Committed,” which zeroes in on the fallout of the Vietnam War in France. [30:15]

 

Dispatches, Episode 11,
November 1, 2021:
Best-selling novelist James Lee Burke—the creator of the famed fictional Vietnam War veteran Louisiana sheriff’s deputy Dave Robicheaux—discusses Robicheaux’s origin story, his sophisticated literary antecedents, and the Vietnam War’s effects on Robicheaux and his hell-raising sidekick Clete Purcell. [28:48]

 

Dispatches, Episode 10,
October 11, 2021:
Actor, writer and musician Tucker Smallwood, talks about his tour of duty commanding a five-man Mobile Advisory Team in Vietnam, his decision to make acting a career, and insider stories about his work on movies and television. [31:56]

Dispatches, Episode 9,
September 20, 2021:
Award-winning poet, journalist, and novelist Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai discusses her stunning 2020 novel, “The Mountains Sing,” a riveting tale of three generations of a Vietnamese family and the wars they lived through from the 1940s to the 1970s. [31:42]
Dispatches, Episode 8,
August 30, 2021:
Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Robert Olen Butler discusses his tour of duty in the Vietnam War with U.S. Army intelligence, how he fell in love with Vietnam and the Vietnamese people, and the impact of that experience on his life and work. [31:41]

Dispatches, Episode 7,
August 9, 2021:
Bill Ehrhart discusses his action-heavy tour of duty in the Vietnam War and its impact on his life and work, including teaching the war for more than two decades to high school students. [33:00]

Dispatches, Episode 6,
July 19, 2021:
Heath Lee discusses the previously untold story of wives of Vietnam War POWs who took on the U.S. government to bring their husbands home. [26:00]
 
Dispatches, Episode 5,
June 28, 2021:
Writer/editor/professor Wayne Karlin discusses his tours of duty with the Marines during the Vietnam War, his trips back to Vietnam in the years since, and how the unique “sense of place” of his home in Southern Maryland permeates his writing. [26:20]
 
Dispatches, Episode 4,
June 7, 2021:
Acclaimed author Tim O’Brien discusses his definition of a “memoir,” the role word-of-mouth played in the critical success of his book “The Things They Carried,” and much more. [30:45]
Dispatches, Episode 3,
May 10, 2021:
Acclaimed novelist Bobbie Ann Mason talks about taking risks, how she develops her characters, and the unusual experience of being on the set of “In Country,” the Hollywood movie based on her 1985 novel. [21:50]

Dispatches, Episode 2,
April 19, 2021:
Renowned military advisor Dale Dye explains how dogged persistence was the secret to his becoming Hollywood’s go-to man for battlefield realism. [24.05]

Dispatches, Episode 1,
February 8, 2021:
Marc speaks with veteran actor Troy Evans about his unorthodox route to a career in acting, how Hollywood is really just a small town, and what it’s like working with Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Michael Connelly, and many others. [33:30]

The Outlet
“The Outlet,” hosted by The VVA Veteran’s Daniel Devora, focuses on issues especially important to Vietnam War veterans and their families. Questions for future episodes can be submitted by clicking here.
The Outlet, Episode 1,
February 8, 2021:
VVA Treasurer Jack McManus discuss the purpose and function of VVA’s Conventions and the effect of the pandemic on planning the 2021 Convention. [24:00]
 
The Outlet, Episode 2,
March 8, 2021:
Veterans Health Council Director Dr. Artie Shelton discusses the many COVID vaccine considerations for veterans. [16:15]
 

The Outlet, Episode 3,
May 3, 2021:
Vietnam Veterans of America President John Rowan and Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Maryland) discuss VVA’s legislative priorities and other key issues facing veterans at large. [30:00]