Veterans’ tales in and around the library

Friends of Lincoln Library column
By: Lora Finnegan, Special To The News Messenger
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Second of a two-part series

Last week, I talked about one way to honor veterans — by simply hearing their stories — and I promised to tell you more about the Lincoln Hills Veterans Group. They have partnered with the Library of Congress and the Lincoln Public Library to capture veterans’ stories.

In fact, the Lincoln Hills Veterans Group has for years been working to “record and preserve the military experiences of any veteran, who served during any time period, along with the stories of those associated with military personnel in any way, including active service, civilian support, family members and friends.”

Doug Cooper of the Lincoln Hills Veterans Group tells me that he and other volunteers have recorded the military experiences of some 30 veterans right here at the Lincoln Public Library. Cooper is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.

Cooper and fellow member Bob Stackhouse, director of the Lincoln Hills Veterans Group’s Veterans History Project and retired Air Force master sergeant, have been doing the interviews for years.

“We got training from historians on how to conduct the 60- to 90-minute interviews,” Cooper said. Subjects come to them via referrals or contacts directly.

“We’ve done a lot of World War II vets,” Cooper noted, “because we’re losing them the fastest.”

A Vietnam veteran, Cooper is justly proud of his work with the project, adding “I feel privileged to be a part of it and I’m always amazed by the stories.”

Korea and Vietnam vet Stackhouse is a founding member of the nonprofit Lincoln Hills Veterans Group — made up of some 300 members representing all branches of the military.

Stackhouse applied to the Library of Congress for the charter to do the Veterans History Project. He knows that the stories can be hard to hear and to tell.

“Sometimes, they’re very moving and other times they’re fairly gritty,” he says. “But people are willing to open up to Doug and me because we’ve been there.”

The Lincoln Hills Veterans Group also serves to help the community as a whole. Right now, they’re collecting toys to be given out to area families in need. (Adding to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots effort, those collection barrels are in the Sun City Lincoln Hills’ lodges).

The group also offers speakers and dispenses information to veterans. Sometimes, that information can be life-saving.

Cooper recalled informing one former military man (who lacked private health insurance) that, as a veteran, he was entitled to a physical exam by the military. Thanks to that thorough exam, the doctor discovered an early (and treatable) case of cancer.

The Lincoln Hills Veterans Group uses donated office space in the Twelve Bridges library (right next to the Friends’ small office).

It’s good to remember that the library helps many active military men and their families based at nearby Beale Air Force Base.

“We get a lot of active-duty service persons from Beale,” said Lincoln library coordinator Renae Mahaffey, “and their families, who come in to get library cards.”

They might use the free computers and Internet access, check out books and DVDs, use the children’s section or relax in the periodicals section over a copy of a familiar magazine or newspaper covering their hometown area.

Learn more about the Lincoln Hills Veterans Group and how to join by calling their president, Joey Chisesi, at 408-1705.


At Twelve Bridges Library

Dec. 5 and 6 from 2 to 4 p.m.): Free beginning computer classes for seniors in the Technology Room; call 434-2410 for more information.

Dec. 8 from 1 to 4 p.m.: Holiday book sale (DVDs, audio books, Christmas books).

This column is part of a Friends of the Lincoln Library series. To donate to the nonprofit Friends, write to Box 394, Lincoln CA 95648, contact 434-2404, or Lora Finnegan is a Friends of the Lincoln Library member.