by Bryce Mcgraw
The grit and determination of the American fighting force may be considered by some as the apex of our country’s strength. But how could a community support its veterans for their commitment to the preservation of our freedoms? Pikes Peak State College has found one way through its publication SITREP, a veteran-focused literary and arts journal.
SITREP was developed in 2020 by two English professors with help from Military and Veterans Programs at PPSC. The journal came from a growing sense that the community needed a place to welcome and celebrate veterans’ (and their families’) voices — a visual way to let the military community know “we got your six.”
The publication’s name comes from a term used throughout the armed forces for Situation Report. Troops use these reports to relay developing information between command elements and allies to ensure unit cohesion during operations. Just as a Situation Report in the military keeps troops informed, SITREP intends to deliver its own report to the Colorado Springs community.
“An all-volunteer, professional military such as ours has many positive attributes,” says Dana Zimbleman SITREP editor-in-chief. “However, one problem is that ordinary citizens are often detached from the realities of military life and service, even in a military town like Colorado Springs. Our publication seeks to remedy that by sharing veterans’ stories and experiences.”
Paul DeCecco is a retired Army colonel and the director of MVP at PPSC. His support and connection to the military community has helped shape the direction for the journal.
“When SITREP was proposed, I was already working with the local arts community as well as our PPSC Arts Community, so I loved the idea from the start,” he says. “SITREP to me seemed like a perfect extension of our military/veterans ‘art program’ that we in MVP were already trying to develop.”
The journal allows individuals with artistic passions to showcase their personal pieces within a respectful environment, whether it be private art, photography, poetry or other written works. “Our students have contributed extensively, but SITREP’s mission extends to reaching beyond our campus to the wider military population,” Zimbleman says. “That includes military families who experience lengthy deployments, frequent relocations, and other issues that the civilian population does not fully understand.”
Service members often are forced to put their creative aspirations aside during their military service — something that SITREP hopes to remedy. “[The journal] offers our entire community an opportunity to peer into a creative window to our military/veteran community, their thoughts, feelings and expressions,” DeCecco says.
“One problem is that ordinary citizens are often detached from the realities of military life and service.”
— Dana Zimbleman
Joseph Southcott, dean of PPSC’s Mathematics and English Division and retired Army Colonel, is another key player in SITREP’s success. “Your voice matters. Every veteran has a story,” Southcott says. “We want you to share yours with us and ours with you.” Southcott and DeCecco have both been featured interviews in SITREP.
SITREP is about strengthening community. In a sense, it acts as an Objective Rally Point for military students attending PPSC. “Our involvement in SITREP and other arts programs provides our military and veteran students an opportunity to grow their own community network in areas that they may otherwise not have had any contact,” DeCecco says. “I think this is an important opportunity for these students as it may help them in their own personal transition from the military life into civilian life.”
Families of service members are also encouraged to submit their work for possible publication. In the first two editions, many pieces came from students growing up in a military household. Military spouses have also shared their experiences of living through long deployments.
The content is varied, and while most submissions involve a military theme, all themes are welcome. “Sometimes service members are reluctant to discuss their time in the military. Others return incredibly proud of their military service,” Zimbleman says.
“The community has an obligation to listen to and understand what our veterans have gone through in service to their country,” she says. “Who better to tell us those things than the people who experienced them firsthand? That’s why SITREP is so important.”
SITREP is now seeking submissions for its spring edition. Anyone in the military community can enter for consideration. The online version (published each fall) can be found at pikespeakparley.com/category/sitrep. Email submissions to SITREP@pikespeak.edu by April 1. Include your name, contact info and service information.
In particular, SITREP is seeking works from veterans who now work with private defense contractors and conduct missions all over the globe, and from U.S. citizens actively aiding in the Ukrainian war effort, as well as any Colorado Springs locals who have firsthand experience in that area. Zimbleman says, “If there are veterans out there who fit into that category, I hope they will get in touch with me.”
Zimbleman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.