Veterans History Project

Veterans History Project

There is perhaps no better way to learn about history than through firsthand accounts. You get a better understanding of what really happened when you hear directly from those who lived through the events. That’s what the Veterans History Project (VHP)—an initiative that aims to preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans—seeks to do. 

Since the VHP was approved by Congress in 2000, over 100,000 veterans have described their service in audio and video recordings that are now part of the collection. Submissions have been archived from veterans of World War I through Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. These men and women participated and witnessed some pivotal events in our nation’s history. 

Arkansans have a long and proud history of supporting our nation’s military. More than 200,000 veterans call Arkansas home, however only 1,200 Arkansas veterans’ stories are part of the VHP collection. I want to make sure this collection includes examples of courage, bravery and service of as many Arkansans who have worn our nation’s uniform as possible. 

Many of us have family members and friends who have served in the Armed Forces. Capturing and preserving their memories is a great way to honor their service and commitment to our country.

For more information on how you can participate in the Veterans History Project, visit

Recent 'Salute to Veterans' Highlights

Ernest Exner grew up in Connecticut in a family of six children raised by a single mom. He aimed to follow his brother’s example and enlist in the National Guard. “I told my mother I’d like to go, she said ‘no,’” but Exner wouldn’t take that for an answer so he changed his birth certificate to reflect he was one year older so he could enlist without his mom’s permission.

His National Guard unit activated during the Korean War. He was committed to his soldiers and wanted to continue serving with the men he trained, but the Army had other plans for him. They “shipped me to Germany. Terrible mistake, wow. Germany had the nicest looking women and the nicest beer,” Exner said. He served as an assistant platoon sergeant in an infantry company conducting patrols along the Austrian border.  

Learn more about Exner's life and how he continued his service with the Coast Guard Auxilary in this inteview

Elesha Granniss has a family history of military service, but she was inspired to serve in uniform after the tragic death of a close friend who had enlisted in the Army and was days away from beginning his service. She enlisted in the Air Force hoping it would open doors for travel, but her first assignment was somewhere familiar. “I wanted to see the world and I got stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama - three hours away from home,” Granniss laughed.

During more than 17 years in uniform, she was able to live in and experience a number of locations across the U.S. and the world during deployments to Saudi Arabia and Iraq. She fondly recalls her time in the military where she was committed to looking out for the individuals she was in charge of. Learn more about her memories of serving in uniform in this interview. Today, Granniss calls Flippin home where she continues her service working as an Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs District Veterans Service Officer and Arkansas Women Veterans Coordinator.

Central Arkansas Vietnam veteran Clyde Cook II excelled in athletics and earned a track scholarship to the University of Arkansas. Unfortunately a broken ankle sidelined his college track career. Eventually Clyde was inspired to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps by a friend. While he initially signed up for the reserves, he got “gung-ho” during training camp and joined active duty. When he was stationed in Vietnam he fondly remembers growing a mustache and goatee and we wasn’t reprimanded by the commanding officers because of the dangerous conditions they were living in. Clyde's proudest achievements during his military service includes earning the Presidential Unit Citation Award twice. Hear more of his memories in this interview


William Stroud was born in Kahoka, a community in Stone County on March 4, 1941. He learned from an early age the sacrifice of military service when his dad, Willie E. Stroud, was drafted into the Army in 1944 and was killed in action during the Battle of the Bulge. The ultimate sacrifice of his father didn't keep him from pursuing service in uniform. “In high school I always knew that I wanted to join the military and I thought that I wanted to join the Air Force,” Stroud said. “In the Air Force you don’t have to sleep on the ground. You very seldom have to eat cold food, so that’s what I wanted,” he said. He developed a passion for helping veterans. He established the Stone County Honor Guard and serves as the Stone County Veterans Service Officer where he is responsible for helping local veterans and their families with issues involving the Department of Veterans Affairs. Learn more about his service and his continued advocacy for veterans in this interview