CU to host military arts symposium

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Photo by Smith Steigleder

Smith Steigleder
News Writing Student

On May 14-17, Cameron University will host the second National Military Experience & the Arts Symposium.

Cameron instructor Jason Poudrier, an Army veteran who received a Purple Heart, requested that this event come to Cameron University after he attended the first National Military Experience & the Arts Symposium held at Eastern Kentucky University in 2012.

“I attended the first event and was the leader for a poetry workshop,” Poudrier said. “And when I was not leading I got to go to some of the other workshops that were going on. I was extremely moved by it all and thought that Cameron needs to host this. We have a very big military community at Cameron with Ft. Sill nearby.”

The symposium is a four-day event geared towards military veterans and their families. It will consist of different artistic and expression workshops.

“There is going to be poetry, nonfiction, fiction, yoga, paint and possibly charcoal workshops,” Poudrier said. “Just a sharing of art forms and how to create them. We will be introducing and refining their skills in these areas. It is almost like art therapy for them.”

Registration began on Aug. 15 and is currently open up until the day of the event. It is a non-refundable $20 for each participant that wishes to take place in the various festivities. This fee includes all of the events plus meals.

This is Poudrier’s second year teaching at Cameron University. Poudrier has a long-standing history with the military. He enlisted in 2001 just before the attacks that took place on September 11.

“It reprioritized my own feelings, emotions and ideas about being in the military,” Poudrier said. “I was thinking that I am in the military now, and my job is to go to war if called upon. I knew there was now a good chance of that happening. If it did I would get to really serve my country beyond what I ever thought I would be able to.”

Indeed, Poudrier got his chance to serve.

“In 2003, my unit was the first battery to deploy out of Ft. Sill for the Iraq war,” Poudrier said. “When the initial invasion kicked off and the President announced that we are now invading Iraq I was with my unit in Kuwait.”

Poudrier was part of field artillery and the battery’s main mission was to secure the Baghdad International Airport. They were 19 miles outside of Baghdad when tragedy struck.

“We had an air force bomb dropped on our unit,” Poudrier said. “And we lost three guys, and I was one of five that was injured in that event. I was injured to the point that I had to be air evaced out.”

He sustained injury to the backside of his thighs.

“I was lucky enough that the injury was all muscle and I did not suffer any damage to my organs,” Poudrier said.

He made a full physical recovery and pushed to stay with the military.

“I got into better shape than I was before,” Poudrier said. “I was part of the Army ten miler team, and did all kinds of running.”

However, Poudrier ultimately decided that it was in his best interests to start pursuing other opportunities and he received a medical discharge from the military. He was awarded the Purple Heart from the United States Military.

Poudrier has an undergraduate degree in English and a Masters of Education from Cameron University. He used his life experience and education to secure a job at Cameron.

“I love working with so many students that remind me of myself,” Poudrier said. “Whether they are coming back from the military or coming back to college after years of being out of it. I want them to know that it is okay being in remedial classes like intermediate algebra or developmental comp. I started off at the bottom too and I had to work my way up. It all just sets them up for success.”

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