Words After War first began as community writers group in Charlottesville, Virginia, during the fall of 2008. Brandon was enrolled at a local community college and still grappling with many of the emotions frequently experienced by recently returned veterans. Mike was a Hoyns Fiction Fellow at the University of Virginia, where he taught fiction and writing to undergraduates.
Mike and Brandon immediately bonded over their shared love of literature and writing. With a mutual desire to write outside of the classroom, the two started a writers group, open to the public, where they both witnessed first-hand the transformative power of storytelling and community building.
Fast forward to a few years later, both have finished college and settled in the north. Brandon is an advocate for post-9/11 vets and freelance writer living in New York City. Mike is a writer working in Connecticut. After several discussions, Mike and Brandon saw an increasing disconnect between veterans and the civilian population. Troubled by this disconnect, both men identified a few of the key challenges facing the veteran community, and then formed a plan around how to they might address the challenges facing veterans and their families. The two hit upon a way to apply the lessons they learned in Charlottesville to a wider community: they would create an organization whose mission was to use the transformative power of storytelling to foster community building.
In 2013, the two friends decided to collaborate and build a support network for veterans and their families to share their stories with civilians through high-quality literary programming and intensive writing instruction. Shortly thereafter Words After War was formed.