Does Calling them “Heroes” Help or Hurt?: Creating a Shared Understanding of War, Heroism, and Reintegration Between Civilians and Veterans

The intent of this session is to explore the impact of the term “hero” on US military veterans.  Veterans are often called heroes in the news media simply for having signed up.  In contrast, often military members who have seen the most intense military combat and been decorated for bravery insist that they were just doing their duty, or that others who sacrificed more should be the ones recognized as heroes.  A BBC reporter, and also a US military veteran, David Botti interviewed several Hero Round Table presenters about their views of heroism. This special broadcast explored the possibility that the term hero might create the paradoxical effect of stigmatizing the very veteran whom civilians seek to honor. This is due to the very different meanings and assumptions civilians attach to military culture and service.

During this breakout session, we will show the BBC special “What Makes a Hero”, which will be followed by a facilitated panel discussion including HRT speaker Michael Squier, Dr. Zeno Franco, one of the leading researchers on heroism and veteran reintegration, and Mr. Mark Flower, a Cold War veteran.  After the panel discussion, the audience will be invited to brainstorm with the panel more powerful, productive ways to engage with the ideal of military heroism, while ensuring that the term isn’t used to simply neatly package up and ignore the realities of transitioning from military to civilian life.

Facing Fear

This workshop offers two thirty-minute-workshops. “Know Your Nemesis" is a cognitive reframing activity, facilitated by Ellie Jacques. Participants will convert an abstract fear into a visible manifestation as an exercise in gaining control over it. "The Cave You Fear To Enter" will invite participants to write a list of things that scare them, then consider if these fears should be faced and overcome. Clive Williams and Matthew Winkler will facilitate this small-group activity. The workshop will end with a large-group gathering, exchanging feedback and sharing takeaways.

Defending Human Rights Defenders

In this workshop session, we'll learn about individuals who defend human rights in different countries around the world, we'll talk about why these human rights defenders are heroes, and we'll discuss ways to get the word out to others about their heroism. Most importantly, we'll conclude our session by taking action ourselves to help defend human rights defenders who are in danger for their heroic work.

Introduction to Medieval Sword Fighting

Samantha Swords leads a class introducing you to the art of sword fighting passed down through the centuries from medieval Europe. With two-handed training swords, you will learn the basics of this European martial art and be ready to further your education if you find yourself inspired.

Each participant will take home a training sword.


COST of $20 - take your sword and safety glasses home with you.

The Heroes of the Holocaust

While a "Hero of the Holocaust" is considered someone who saved a Jewish person or persons from death at the hands of the Nazis or their collaborators, are there others who might fit the definition of Holocaust Hero?
What did noted poet Primo Levi, an Italian Holocaust survivor, mean when he wished Adolph Eichman, who murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews, "not a quick death, but a long life"?

And what was my Grandmother's wish for all Nazis at the dentist's office? It not quite what you might think.

The Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness

Do you want more happiness, fulfilment and energy? Do you want to dramatically improve your own productivity and increase employee performance and business effectiveness?

Our parents, teachers and managers have told us that, if we want to succeed, we should find and fix our weaknesses. However, most of us never make much progress trying to eliminate our worst traits. In fact, our weaknesses are actually the best clue to our strengths. In this funny and counter-intuitive talk, David shows how to find happiness, personal fulfilment and business success by starting with weaknesses — and embracing them rather than trying to deny them. 

Stars of Hope

Stars of HOPE® is a unique disaster relief and community arts project that has empowered children and families across the world to transform communities impacted by natural and man-made disasters through colorful art and messages of hope and healing.

In doing so, Stars of HOPE is transforming the traditional disaster relief dynamic of food-clothing-shelter by introducing a critical 4th element – HOPE –into the immediate and long term recovery process. The SoH impact reaches broad and deep in strengthening the resilience of communities in need, impacting at-risk youth, and bolstering the mental health of children, families, and entire communities in the wake of tragedy nationwide, and globally.

During this workshop, participants will learn more about SoH, and will have an hour to paint their very own Star of Hope (all stars, paint, brushes provided) - once completed, the group will then decide where they would like to send their stars (can be to any disaster-affected area, either local, national or international of their choosing), on behalf of the Hero Round Table - wherever they feel people need love, light, hope and healing. Leave the workshop feeling inspired and empowered by knowing your star will shine brightly to help a community heal.

For more information on Stars of HOPE, check out their website at:


Be Not Afraid: A Life of Reasonable Recklessness

Fear is the single biggest factor in the creation of unfulfilled, unheroic lives. Fear keeps us from maximizing professional opportunities, fostering sustainable relationships, and crafting incredible life experiences. What originated as a rational mental response to actual physical danger in human beings has become a catalyst of paralysis, undermining love and sabotaging greatness. In its most aggressive form, fear is used to divide humanity for material and political gain, often using lies or distortions. At its most insidious, fear keeps us from embodying our innate greatness, poisoning our hearts and minds with doubts about our power and our worth. Fear causes us to act in ways that we aren’t proud of, fueling guilt and shame. It is a virus that infects our thoughts, emotions, and actions, separating us from authenticity and, in the end, our highest selves.

Our fears come in many forms. We fear losing our loved ones or our comfortable lifestyles or even our minds. We fear judgment from ourselves and others. We fear dying, either too soon or painfully. We fear pain, both physical and emotional. We fear the imaginary bogeymen who inhabit the unknown. And we fear love, because we often associate it with abandonment, betrayal, or worthlessness. These fears hold us back from starting our online business, opening up to our family about our sexuality, writing our first screenplay, catching the sunset from atop the Eiffel Tower, or actually receiving love from someone we claim to be in love with, but who we’re afraid to open up to.

Becoming “fearless” is not the answer, however. Fear is such an ingrained aspect of our psyches, compounded by fear-mongering societal institutions, that to wait until we can “overcome” fears before we take action becomes merely a justification for inaction. The truest way to conquer a fear is to step into that fear, doing the thing we’re afraid of doing despite the fear; not to be fearless, but to be afraid and do it anyway. Recognizing that fear affects every single human being and, actually, is an incredible tool for learning and growth, we can step into a place of “reasonable recklessness,” pushing through fear into a brand new life, full of accomplishment, fulfillment, excitement, and love.


  • I Am Afraid: An Introduction to Our Fears
  • Missing Out: The Consequences of Our Fears
  • Be Fearless: No, Be Afraid and Do It Anyway
  • On Risk: What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
  • I Am Not Afraid: A Life of Reasonable Recklessness


  • Why we have fear
  • The consequences of fear
  • How to identify which type of fear we’re experiencing
  • Why “being fearless” doesn’t actually work
  • How to figure out “what’s the worst that could happen?”
  • How to take calculated risks
  • How to apply the principle of “reasonable recklessness”