New Vietnam veterans series film to be shown in Olean

A new film series, Vietnam: What a Vet Wants You to Know, will be screed next week at the Jamestown Community College Cutco Theater in Olean.

The 7PM Thursday, September 29, showing at 305 North Barry Street, being hosted by the Cattaraugus County Museum and the Cattaraugus County Department of Veterans Services, is part of an ongoing Our Veterans, Their Stories project.

This month’s series, consisting of four approximately six-minute films, features four veterans from Cattaraugus County who share their experiences in a format intended to fit with high school social studies curriculum and be shown to local students.

Chapters portrayed will be Called to Serve, In Country, Coming Home and Looking Back.

The project was developed with the assistance of two local educators, Katie Wolfgang from the Olean City School District and Dollene Christopher of the Allegany-Limestone Central School District who offered input regarding topics to be covered and the length of the films, along with creating lesson plans that follow New York state standards. They also introduce each chapter as hosts in the production.

“This project is important because it offers an opportunity for educators to incorporate local history into a broader understanding of our national and world history, and also offers students a way to view these larger issues through the lens of multiple perspectives,” said Christopher, a teacher of U.S. and world history and geography.

“Anytime we can learn to celebrate our veterans, who play such an important role in our lives, we should!”

Wolfgang said “the oral histories of local Vietnam veterans will be an invaluable tool for use in my U.S history class,” added adding that she “enjoyed learning and growing as an educator as well as collaborating with other local professionals on this project.”

Educators, veterans, and anyone interested in local history are encouraged to attend.

The goal of the films is to give students the opportunity to hear a local perspective of the Vietnam conflict from veterans from their own communities, allowing them insight into the lasting impact of war in their own neighborhoods.

“When we look at a veteran, we don’t see that they are just a regular person who in the case of the Vietnam vets were drafted as kids, sent across the world for perhaps the first time, and participated in the horrors of war,” explained John Tomerlin, videographer for the project.

“They come home and live the rest of their lives with the pain of those memories never leaving them.

“Everyone needs to know what war is really about and how it impacts a person so they have a real understanding as to why they say to a vet, ‘thank you for your service,’” he said.

Nearly three dozen veterans from Cattaraugus County, whose service spans from WWII through Iraq, have been interviewed during the past year for the overall Our Veterans, Their Stories project, with most sessions currently available at a kiosk at the museum as well as on the county website at

Further information about this event or the Our Veterans, Their Stories project is available at (716) 353-8200 or from Veterans Services Director Steve McCord at (716) 701-3298.
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