CWU News

CWU Speaker Series Debut Presentation Calculates the True Cost of War

Autho Phil KlayPhil Klay knows the complicated emotions that play out whenever a member of the United States military completes a deployment. The author of Redeployment, Klay will visit CWU on Saturday, March 9 as the inaugural speaker in the university’s new Lt. General Terry Robling Speaker Series.

Klay’s work is a collection of 12 short stories that take readers to the front lines of the Iraq war and back. His book explores issues of faith, fault, fear, and ferocity that soldiers experience during war, along with the sense of despondency and loneliness that accompany many when they get home.

“From the outset, I always knew that I was writing a collection, that it was going to have a variety of voices, and that they were going to explore different aspects of the Iraq war experience,” Klay said. “I think that is an important part of coming to terms with your own experiences. It’s not just about looking into yourself but also trying to find ways to communicate with other people. I really don’t think you understand yourself, or what you’ve been through until you’re able to communicate it to another human being.”

Major Bonnie Kovatch, CWU military science professor and chair of CWU’s award-winning Army ROTC Department will interview Klay during the free, public presentation, which begins at 11:00 a.m. in CWU’s McConnell Auditorium.

“Mr. Klay gives voice to the true struggle of military veterans and his reflections challenge us to examine both our personal and professional identities,” added Kovatch. “Central’s Military Science program is committed to developing leaders of character to serve the nation through both field-training and academic exercises. In that regard, I appreciate the space Mr. Klay’s work creates for our cadets and anyone—in or out of uniform—to engage on a topic as complex and emotional as war.” 

Redeployment was ranked as one of the New York Times’ “Ten Best Books of 2014.” It also received the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for “a best first book published in any genre”; and the American Library Association’s 2015 W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction.

The new university speaker series is named for Robling, a retired three-star Marine Corps general and CWU alumnus. Now the Chief Executive Officer of PKL Services in Poway, California, Robling was also honored with a 2017 CWU Distinguished Alumni Award.

“It’s been an honor to work with Lt. General Robling, and Central’s development office to bring Mr. Klay to campus,” said Major Bonnie Kovatch, Military Science Professor and Chair of CWU’s award-winning Army ROTC Department.

Following this presentation, Klay will be on-hand for a noon book-signing of his work, copies of which will be available at McConnell Auditorium. It’s sponsored by the CWU Army ROTC Wildcat DetachmentCollege of Education and Professional Studies, CWU Veterans Center, and the Wildcat Shop.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,

March 6, 2018