San Jose Public Library is offering a series of programs that focus on the veteran experience of returning from war.

Part of this year’s California Reads, a biyearly initiative by Cal Humanities that promotes a particular book throughout the state’s libraries and schools, the War Comes Home endeavor reflects on the homecoming of U.S. veterans. Along with 42 other California libraries, San Jose Public Library is promoting the selected feature book, What it is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes, and is hosting events exploring the theme of rehabilitation after war.

“Discussion is going to be aimed around not their experiences in war, but about when they come back from war and what happens domestically as opposed to when they go out,” said SJPL staff member Angie Miraflor. “It’ll be engaging and controversial.”

War Comes Home opened at SJPL on September 3rd with two art exhibits and a book club discussion.

Artist and retired Maj. Mark Pinto emphasizes the invisible burdens of suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder and destitution that veterans face in his “Joes Come Home” exhibit’s digital photo prints at the King Library branch, while in his “22 Joes Every Day exhibit” participants convene every evening to hang an additional 22 plastic G.I. Joe toys from the ceiling as a tangible portrayal of the statistic that 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

Along with many other veterans, Pinto went back to school after serving and graduated from San Jose State University with a Master’s degree. Miraflor noted that with one of the program’s goals being to “raise awareness of veterans in college because so many go back to school,” Pinto is a “perfect example.”

War Comes Home, which oends November 15, will also be featuring additional book club discussions, veteran guest readings for children, film screenings, dramatic theater from SJSU and more. In conjunction with charity veteran programs, SJPL is hosting a care package drive at all library locations through October 17.

“San Jose has a lot of different people from different backgrounds,” Miraflor said. “This is one more way to create civic engagement and learn more about people in our own neighborhoods.”

Felicia Kelley, senior program officer at Cal Humanities, said that in a state with the largest veteran population in the U.S., “there’s a special kind of urgency.” Cal Humanities’ planning panel anticipated in 2012 that especially with the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, the topic was more pressing than ever for the next California Reads.

“We have been involved in war now for over 10 years and our cities and counties are trying to grapple with these needs,” Kelley said. “By doing this project we can promote awareness of this group of people who have stories and experiences and knowledge that really should be shared.”