Eleanor Wilner's paranoid and self-righteous attack on the the NEA's Operation Homecoming program seems to me altogether unreasonable. That there may be a potential for abuse is no reason to reject the possible benefits the program offers those veterans who are interested. Even before the invention of psychotherapy, men and women understood that writing can be a way of at once distancing themselves from their experience and gaining at least the illusion of control over it. These are the reasons for which most of us began writing and many of us continue to do so.
The cooperation of the Department of Defense and the contribution by Boeing do not fatally taint the program. Wilner is an American citizen and it is her government, her country, and her DOD. Boeing is not a criminal conspiracy but a corporation engaged in lawful and productive business. But her anti-war rage nudges her beyond the limits of rationality. Dana Gioia and Eleanor Wilner are both friends of mine, and I am deeply distressed that she gives him and his agency so little credit and publicly attacks his motives. She cannot make the case, however, that anybody will be telling writers what to teach or the soldiers what to write, and unless something like that were to happen, then the program seems to me perfectly benign and even of considerable potential benefit.