Brian Barkman Jr., Wesleyan University

Featured Scholar

Fall 2015

Brian Barkman Jr. is exploring the possibilities of a liberal arts education at Wesleyan University as a member of the school’s second Veterans Posse.

“I want to take as many different classes as I can for the next two years and see what speaks to me,” says Brian. “The biggest problem is narrowing it down to just four classes a semester! There’s so much to do, and I feel like I belong here.”

While Brian’s wide-ranging interests are typical of any college student, his status as a post-9/11 veteran is not. He joined the Army National Guard while he was still in high school and was subsequently deployed as an infantryman to Bosnia and Iraq, followed by deployments to Afghanistan as a civilian military contractor.

Inspired by his personal struggle to deal with what he experienced during the war, Brian and a fellow veteran launched the Veterans Art Foundation to help veterans use art to cope and recover from trauma. The organization offers some art therapy sessions and also organizes exhibits where veterans can display and sell their work.

“We do a lot of outreach to help the next generation of veterans avoid some of the issues we dealt with after coming home,” says Brian.

Today, Brian and his wife have settled in Middletown, Connecticut, and welcomed their first child this fall. And, with his Posse, Brian is ready to tackle college.

“My Posse is very diverse—not only in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, but in opinion,” says Brian. “We can talk about a lot of sensitive topics and maybe not agree, but still be friends. That can be a model for the rest of the world and on campus.”