Organizers hope that a discussion about post-traumatic stress disorder will spur more interest in the commission.
In an effort to broaden its reach, the Richfield Human Rights Commission is trying to foster community-wide conversation with a new book club that debuts with a discussion on post-traumatic stress disorder.
Molly Darsow, who chairs the commission, said the group decided to focus first on a veterans' issue because many Richfield residents have served in the armed forces. U.S. Census data shows about 11 percent of the city's residents are veterans.
"We wanted a way to engage community members in a human rights issue," Darsow said. "It just seemed so relevant to our community."
The commission chose the book, "Tears of a Warrior," co-written by Army vet Anthony Seahorn and his wife, Janet. The book tells about Seahorn's Vietnam experiences, what happened when he got home, and how he and his family coped with Seahorn's emotional scars resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Darsow hopes the book club discussion will help engage Richfield residents in the commission's work and make them realize that everyone can be affected by human rights issues.
"It's just such a casual thing, having a book that gives people a starting point for a conversation that might not otherwise happen," Darsow said.
The discussion is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on March 21 at American Legion Post 435, 6501 Portland Av. S. Darsow is working with the post commander to get in touch with veterans who will talk to the group.
The PTSD discussion dovetails with some City Council interest in becoming a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community. Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is a Minnesota National Guard program that helps communities support those who serve as well as their families, before, during and after deployment.
"I hope it's a launch point where people feel comfortable talking about their own needs in the community," Darsow said. "Then we can see what we need to address."
She was surprised when she searched for a book about PTSD and found mostly textbooks and academic works. "Tears of a Warrior" was appealing because it's a personal story that readers will find easy to identify with, she said.
"Tears of a Warrior" is available online at www.tearsofawarrior.com and also from amazon.com. Darsow also has several copies of the book that she said she will give to residents who want to take part in the book discussion. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380