AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Veterans Curation Program hosts a meet and greet today in their Augusta laboratory.
The Augusta lab of the Veterans Curation Program employs post-9/11 veterans to rehabilitate at-risk archeological collections.
“The most fun part is just learning,” said Derrick Westfall, an archaeological lab technician at the Augusta lab of the Veterans Curation Program. “I didn’t come here with an anthropology or, like, an archaeological background- I came in with a forensic background. And, so, just learning the new craft, I think, has been the most exciting part about it.”
Funded by the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers, the Veterans Curation Program- or VCP- has a two-part mission: to rehabilitate at-risk collections and to train and support veterans.
“As a veteran I know how hard the transition is- finding jobs and whatnot,” said Josh Herrin, an archaeologist and artifacts manager at the VCP Augusta lab. “But also, you know, as an archaeologist it feels really good to rehabilitate and make sure these collections are safe for future research and taken care of properly.”
Since 2009, more than 750 veterans have participated in the program. And nearly 500 collections have been rehabilitated and finalized by the VCP.
“We’re making sure that we have all of these items under our stewardship responsibility being preserved,” said Sharon Knobbe, an anthropologist and project manager of the VCP. “So that, you know, teachers, the general public, tribal members – anyone in the general public can go out and access that information. That’s part of, you know, all of our history.”
And for veterans like Derrick Westfall, an opportunity like this fulfills a childhood dream.
“It’s awesome,” said Westfall. “It’s a dream. Especially being able to sit down with veterans and people who kind of have a similar background as me, it’s kind of nice. Whenever you get out, you kind of…you kind of get thrust into a very new world out of a very different lifestyle. And just having that sort of, uh, having those resources and those people to connect with is awesome.”
VCP managers tell me more than 90 percent of veterans have successfully transitioned from the program. For more information on the VCP, visit veteranscurationprogram.org.