Regular small- and larger-group Reflection Point sessions led by a college professor to provide a unique personal learning experience and help Domiciliary residents reflect and share perspectives.
Operated by the Volunteers of America® and the Veterans' Administration, Veterans’ Domiciliaries—the residents call them “the Dom”—offer Veterans stable transitional living quarters as part of targeted programs that include clinical treatment, peer support and intensive case management to help individuals get back on their feet and live independently again.
Over the last five years, Reflection Point has brought professor-led literature seminars to the Cleveland VA Domiciliary. Participants include male and female Veterans in the residential treatment facility and represent a diverse range of races, cultures and ages.
Small groups meet weekly for an hour to discuss short stories with local college professors. We also hold periodic “Big Reads” for all the Domiciliary residents. As a humanities-based program, Reflection Point provides Veterans a personal and group reflective learning experience alongside more traditional rehabilitative and instructional courses.
Residents discuss short stories, reading them aloud together and discussing their thoughts and reactions. Some classic examples:
- O. Henry, “The Man Higher Up”
- James Joyce, Dubliners (several stories)
- China Achebe, “Dead Men’s Path”
- John Steinbeck, “The Chrysanthemums”
- E.B. White, “The Door”
- Luigi Pirandello, “With Other Eyes”
- Ray Bradbury, “The Flying Machine” and other stories
Program Outcomes: Participant Reflections
In interviews and correspondence, Veteran participants tell us that Reflection Point:
Provides a unique and healthful offering that augments other programs and courses.
- “This is a controlled atmosphere. It’s almost like basic training—you’re not given the wherewithal to do what you want to do. This particular class is the only time you get a chance to really unwind, explore.”
- “It’s just a new way for me, in this environment, to look at myself in a more creative way. I’m kind of a puzzle. I’m still trying to figure myself out. Part of the problem with me being an addict is you're just lost. It's nice to sit with this book that's got all this creativity, you know, it gets in your head. Sometimes you cry, which is wonderful. It's cathartic. It's been really enjoyable for me. Hopefully it stays around. I really do. It's good stuff.”
- “This is really something nice to look forward to, weekly. Throughout the week we're all working on our individual treatments, and so to have something that's not stressful, at all, to look forward to. It's enjoyable.”
- “Because of the reasons why I'm here at the Dom, this is a much healthier way for me to ‘vacate the premises,’ but at the same time being able to practice all of my mindful tools. I can be healthy and vacate the premises and still help myself, so that I'm not sick anymore.”
Enables participants to recognize other perspectives.
- “There were any number of people who attended Reflection Point from inside the Dom, who I was surprised at how astute they were. I had never gotten that impression before. So that was an eye opener. It was like, ‘Wow, this person is really on the ball!’ You know, there was something in that for me—I’ve been too quick to judge other people.”
- “It's like a tree when you read ... let's say I read this back in my room, or somewhere else private. It's kind of planting the seed, my seed, but it grows like a tree and it sprouts. It's kind of everything. It all comes together when we discuss the story, but it builds upon that one seed. Like a tree.”
Offers participants an opportunity to learn about themselves and build skills.
- “This format, this venue, allows whoever participates in it just to not only gain the experience of reading a story, but to actually personalize the story. This is a great story, what does it say to me and what does it say about me.”
- “I tell some of the other guys, some of the other residents here, that for people who don't have good communication skills, it's good for them to come here because it gives them the opportunity to communicate, speak to other people, increase their vocabulary and understand how other people speak.”
Encourages participants to see the power of social engagement.
- “Kind of reminds me of back in the day where we had the potbelly stove in the kitchen, and this is where everybody gathered to talk about their day and everything. We're socializing with each other.”