The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative is a veteran-run, award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our mission is to capture, preserve, and share the voices, images, and experiences of veterans of all eras and branches of service with a Western Pennsylvania connection.
In 2010, Kevin Farkas (navy veteran and Beaver County native) founded The Social Voice Project (an audio-focused educational organization) and began recording community-based life stories, including veterans’ stories as part of his Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Initiative. The aim of this particular project was simply to help local veterans record their stories for their families. “As a way of saying thanks to our veterans, I wanted to use my skills as an audiographer to help ordinary veterans preserve their personal histories,” said Kevin Farkas. “Most veterans are not war heroes, but they, too, once put their lives on the line to defend our nation. Their stories of service matter, but most people never get a chance to record their stories professionally. So, I wanted to use my skills to help create high quality historical legacies for veterans, their families, and the general public.”
In 2012, The Social Voice Project formed a new multimedia partnership that added videography, still photography, and narrative historiography to the ways in which veterans’ stories can be preserved and told. The new project, now called the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, included Todd DePastino of the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit, Veterans Breakfast Club.
“A story not told is a story not heard,” says Todd DePastino (historian and principle interviewer). “It’s important that we move beyond mere preservation and archiving to bring these stories to life by presenting them across multiple media platforms, such as audio and video stories, as well as text-based stories in the form of memoirs and autobiographies. With the right approach, veterans’ storytelling can be historically accurate and creative.”
Veterans Oral History
The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative captures, preserves, and shares the voices, images, and experiences of veterans of all eras and branches of service with a Western Pennsylvania connection–all without charge to veterans.
Since its founding, the Initiative has produced more than 800 local veterans’ stories on record, including over 60 live storytelling events. It also manages two websites with over 180 hours of streaming content.
The Initiative has recorded in more than 50 locations throughout Western Pennsylvania, working with a wide range of community partners such as churches, museums, historical societies, senior care facilities, and other veterans’ organizations. It has also developed collaborative partnerships with Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum and the Senator John Heinz History Center.
The public is encouraged to view, download, and share veterans’ stories—all without charge.
In partnership with the Veterans Breakfast Club, the Initiative records and publishes live storytelling events at more than 25 locations throughout Western Pennsylvania. These public events include breakfast gatherings as well as evening meetings hosted by VBC’s Post-9/11 Veterans Storytelling Project.
The Initiative produces a growing list of veteran and history-related podcasts under The Social Voice Podcast Network (TSVPN)—a nonprofit project aimed at providing technical podcast production assistance to other local nonprofits, historical societies, and community-oriented groups.
The Initiative produces numerous creative audio and video short stories, long-form audiobooks, radio dramas, and print publications, including VBC’s flagship publication–Veteran Voices: The Magazine of the Veterans Breakfast Club.
The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative is Western Pennsylvania’s leading authority on recording veterans oral histories. As part of its nonprofit mission, the Initiative provides assistance and guidance to individuals and organizations wanting to implement oral history into their personal projects or institutional programming.
The Initiative offers a range of speakers specializing in the veteran experience, military history, storytelling, and oral history.