Spotlight on NYWC Workshop Participant Jacqueline Carter-Cutting

Jacqueline Carter-Cutting challenges all my pre-conceived notions of what a United States Army Veteran is. At 38, this attractive and svelte mother of two immediately put me at ease with her rolling island accent, graciously offering me a slice of cake when I met with her one recent afternoon at the Brooklyn Vet Center in downtown Brooklyn. She agrees she is not your stereotypical soldier, confiding to me that when she was in Basic Training her drill sergeant called her “Old Mama.”

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A native of Guyana, she moved to Barbados at age 25, where she lived for three years before marrying a U.S. citizen and relocating to the United States in 2000. Jacqueline cited one of the reasons for her move to the States, “It’s the dreamland, where everyone is able to make it.” But when I asked if she still felt that way now, she shrugged her shoulders and said with a laugh, “it’s a work in progress.”

In October of 2001, only three months after moving to New York City from Miami, and one month after September 11, she was laid off from her job at American Airlines-American Eagle, so, at thirty years old, she enlisted in the United States Reserves. She had always wanted to be a soldier.

Jacqueline describes her deployment in Kuwait as not that bad, explaining the emotional baggage that went with it was much worse than the daily toil. Her job, which she wasn’t allowed to talk about, involved interacting with many people each day, and her calming demeanor invited everyone around her to share their woes.

Jacqueline started writing poems in the early 90’s to “take away anger,” and has been at it every since. She has been attending New York Writers Coalition workshops at the Brooklyn Vet Center, led by Yvonne Garrett, since its inception in March of 2008. She claims writing has a calming affect on her and it has helped her deal with her road rage, a condition she’s developed since returning from her deployment. Her experiences in the service have influenced her writing as well. While she writes both fiction and non-fiction, the emotions from her past come through in all her writing.

When not writing or serving in the United States Reserves, Jacqueline attends nursing school at Kingsboro where she will be earning her R.N. in a few short months. She plans to continue her studies to earn a B.S.N. so she can practice psychiatric nursing both in the civilian world and in the army.