For 30 years, Thomas Murray carried the wounds of thousands of soldiers in his heart—those who died on Vietnam’s killing fields, and those who came home to an angry public seething over the ill-fated war. So when the chance came for him to do something new with his life, the 1969 ROTC graduate and Vietnam vet realized he could do a lot of healing by bringing the vets together with another group of wounded people—troubled teens. Last year, his first dropout prevention class of at-risk high school students at the Pinellas Technical Education Center in Clearwater, Fla., produced a book of interviews with 27 veterans, many of whom had never spoken of their Vietnam experiences.
“This allows the veterans to tell their stories and find healing in that, and it allows my kids to find healing in their own lives by relating to someone else,” Murray says. “Being a teen is a hard job. These kids have all these problems, and they think they’re the only ones going through them. But when they relate to these veterans, they realize these people went through far more serious problems—life- and-death problems—yet are successful human beings 30 years later.”
The book, “The Heart of a Warrior,” is a supplement to his History of the Vietnam War class. A second volume, produced by this year’s class is also being published.