SVSU student’s research on veterans published in academic journal

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With a family connection fueling her drive to shed light on American military veterans, a Saginaw Valley State University student co-authored a research paper on the topic that was recently published in a scientific journal.

Alexis Juarez is co-author of “I Have Served to Tell: A Qualitative Study of Veterans’ Reactions on Participating in a Living Library Project”, which led to its publication in an online academic journal, entitled “Journal of Veteran Studies “.

“I’m so happy to have accomplished so much with this story, and I’m so grateful to contribute writing and research,” said Juarez, a social work student from Bay City.


Mark Giesler, professor of social work at SVSU, served as an advisor and co-author of the research paper.

The text examines how military veterans share their service stories, including an increasingly popular option known as the “Living Library” or “Human Library.”

Both “libraries” refer to events in the community where military veterans – as well as people with a variety of life experiences – are invited to share their stories with others. They essentially act as human ‘books’, verbally sharing their life stories with visitors to ‘libraries’.

A series of Human Library events have been held at SVSU’s Melvin J. Zahnow Library in recent years.

“Since the Vietnam War, storytelling has emerged as a viable intervention for war veterans seeking treatment for PTSD, depression, and other adjustment issues,” the article begins. “To deliver its benefits, however, storytelling must take place in a safe environment with trusted listeners. This article considers a yet unexplored place for veterans to share their stories – the Living Library.”

Juarez received his data from the SVSU databases as well as the narrative narration directly from the events of the SVSU Human Library.

Juarez reviewed the human library literature, wrote interview questions for participants, analyzed data, participated in interviews, and conducted one herself.

“I was amazed by how she threw herself into the task of interviewing individuals, without having any prior research experience,” Giesler said.

“His natural instinct to be able to review someone’s response to questions was a real asset to me as we had to figure out how to compile all the data from the interviews.”

Juarez said she was connected to research and writing on a personal level.

“My dad is a Marine and that’s something that’s really close to my heart, and knowing that I was going to be working with veterans and hearing their stories is really invaluable,” Juarez said. “Professor Giesler had such faith in me and entrusted me with this story. I am so lucky to be part of this project.”

Juarez eventually plans to pursue her master’s degree in social work at SVSU. She currently works as an Education Systems Assistant at Auburn Elementary School in the Bay City Public Schools District, where she works with a child with autism.

Her career aspirations are to work with children and guide them to a happy and fulfilling life.

To read “I Served to Tell: A Qualitative Study of Veterans’ Responses to Participation in a Living Library Project”, visit https://journal-veterans-studies.org/articles/10.21061/jvs.v5i1.148 /.

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