Archive | Press Releases

Moving the Blog to

After posting on the Words After War blog for over a year, we’re now migrating the blog to Going forward, you’ll be able to read the blog archive on the website, but all the new content — round-ups, stories, and events — will be posted on our page. We are excited for the opportunity to reacher a larger audience with this new platform and we believe the design is simply phenomenal.

By the way, we’re always looking for great stories. So if you have something you would like to publish with us, please send it our way. Be sure to check the website for updates on our various programs, as we plan to continue to update the website.

Thanks for all the loyal readers of this page.


Words After War

Weekly Round-Up: Summer Writing Intensive

Summer Writing Intensive

Photo Credit: Marlboro College

Welcome to the Words After War Weekly Round-Up: “Summer Writing Intensive” Edition. In this space we share links relevant to our mission of improving the military-civilian dialogue through high-quality literary programming.

We’re happy to announce that we finalized a partnership with Marlboro College – my alma mater – to provide veterans and civilians with an opportunity to study writing for a week in a community of literary-minded folks. We are honored to co-sponsor the Summer Writing Intensive, and it means a great deal to us to have it held at Marlboro College, which had a significant influence in the founding of Words After War. Plus, for those of you who have never been, Vermont is paradise in August.

A few of us started this journey a little over a year ago, and we are now a community. This week in August will serve as validation that our literary community is both growing and also believes immensely in our mission. This will be an amazing opportunity for everyone, no matter your writing or education level. We hope to see many of you there, especially our military families.

Read our press release here, and find out more below:

Apply Now!

About the Summer Writing Intensive

Over the course of five days (Sun, Aug 3 – Fri, Aug 8, 2014), you will join a group of writers – professional writers, professors and other students interested in honing their craft – on the Marlboro Campus. You will participate in workshops during the day, and in the evenings you will write, talk and have fun with other writers. You will live in a dorm on Marlboro’s beautiful southern Vermont campus in the company of other program participants. Meals are included and served in the dormitory.

Workshops will include:

  • discussions of literature;
  • readings and workshops with professional writers of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry;
  • workshops to develop critiques of your own work;
  • sessions on drafting and editing with college faculty and other program participants.

Cost: The cost of the program, which includes all workshops, lodging and food, is $500.

In the spirit of Marlboro’s founders, all veterans, military spouses, gold star children, as well as those currently serving on active, reserve or guard duty are eligible for a Veteran’s Writing Grant which will entitle them to attend the Intensive at no cost.

Limited scholarships for non-veterans are also available.

The Veteran’s Writing Grant form and the non-veteran financial aid form is now available.

About Marlboro College

The Summer Writing Intensive grows out of Marlboro College’s fundamental commitment to writing. Marlboro was founded in 1946 by veterans returning from World War II who wanted to create a different kind of college—one where students were not only participants but also active contributors to the academic and community life of campus. Writing is at the core of the curriculum these veterans designed: Marlboro’s Clear Writing Requirement stems from the belief that clear writing leads to clear thinking, and means that clear writing in all its forms is a constant focus in the intellectual, political and social life of the Marlboro Community.

Learn more about the Writing Intensive’s lead faculty member, John Sheehy, and the application process for veterans hoping to complete a degree at Marlboro.

About Words After War

Co-founded by Brandon Willitts, veteran, writer and Marlboro alum, Words After War is a literary organization with a mission to change the national conversation around veteran issues by including civilians in that conversation. Through high-quality literary programming, Words After War provides veterans and civilians with opportunities to examine conflict and war through the lens of literature.

Questions? Contact the Ariel Brooks, Director of Non Degree Programs at or 802-451-7118.

Here we go.

  1. Elliot Ackerman penned an excellent piece for The Daily Beast on a Marine combat veteran who went to Syria and disappeared. According to Ackerman, groups of veterans are returning to the Middle East drawn by nostalgia for war, and for some of them it has brought about significant consequences for themselves and their families.
  2. Over on The Atlantic, you can see powerful images from WWI. Please be warned, many of these photos are graphic depictions of war violence.
  3. Military Times published a rather damning article on how now-retired Army Gen. David Petraeus misplaced the file of Army Capt. William Swenson, who received the Medal of Honor last year. And according to the Army’s Inspector General, Petraeus also recommended that the honor be downgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross.
  4. The Daily Beast has an exclusive article on how the CIA is dismantling its Afghan counterterrorist forces in the southern and eastern parts of the country. The tragic part of this situation is that we already know how it’s going to end. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars for an in-depth understanding of the CIA’s involvement in Afghanistan from the late-1970’s to the early-2000’s.
  5. For the past few weeks, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) has been embroiled in controversy, leading some VSOs to call for the resignation of VA Secretary Shinseki. Jake Siegal wrote a terrific piece on the scandal for The Daily BeastPolitico ran an op-ed of support for Shinseki; and MSNBC got a smart take on the scandal by our friend, Ann Weeby.
  6. Adam Weinstein wrote a sad post for Gawker on Facebook’s refusal to remove the grisly series of photographs a Marine veteran had taken of his suicide, despite several requests from his friends and veterans’ organizations.
  7. Barnes and Noble Review published an interesting interview between the talented literary siblings, Benjamin and Jennifer Percy.

Have a great week.


Wanted: Literary Mentees

You're the man now, dog.

You’re the man now, dog.

Are you a veteran embarking on a creative project? Maybe you are applying to college or graduate school and need somebody to edit your application essays. Maybe you are outlining a memoir or mulling a novel or just trying to jot down some thoughts. We want to help. Let us match you with a mentor to serve as a sounding board, supporter and independent advisor.

One of the hardest things about writing is finding a reader you trust. It can be difficult to part with early drafts. They are frequently raw with emotion. It’s a vulnerable time. But it is also a crucial part of the process. Finding a good reader can be the difference between publishing your work and storing it on your hard drive. Writers need guidance, they need deadlines and structure. These are some of the more contradictory bits of the creative life. This is why we want to give everyone time to stew in the woods, but we also want to grill them in the workshop. Crank the wheel, turn the scraps into sausage.

Here’s how the Words After War Literary Mentorship Program cranks: You contact us and briefly explain your hopes/dreams/current creative projects. We match you with an experienced volunteer. What happens after we make the introduction is largely up to you. Ideally we would like there to be at least THREE conversations between mentors and mentees, either online or in person, but if you two hit it off we have no problem with more than that. Get an apartment together for all we care. It’s a cold world out there, especially for fledgling artists.

What happens if the chemistry isn’t right? What if your mentor doesn’t GET you? We try again. The mentors are showing up in full force. People want to share their experience and expertise. Let them. Benefit from their knowledge. Learn from their mistakes. Obviously we hope this will be a two-way street. Three-way, if you count us over on the administrative end.

Interested in being a mentee (or mentor)? Contact DAVID via INFO at WORDSAFTERWAR dot ORG. Let’s build.

Danger Close: Writing War in the Workshop

Danger Close: Writing War in the Workshop


Words After War, in partnership with the New York Public Library, is pleased to present “Danger Close: Writing War in the Workshop.” At 6:30 PM on Thursday, November 21, novelist and journalist Helen Benedict will moderate a panel to include Matt Gallagher, Phil Klay, Maurice Decaul and Mariette Kalinowski. The panelists will share personal stories of documenting and researching war, as well as the particular challenges and complications of writing about war in the 21st century. We hope to see you there! Tickets and further information can be found HERE.

A bit more about the (very talented and generous) panelists and moderator:

Matt Gallagher

Matt Gallagher is the author of the memoir Kaboom and the co-editor of Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War. A graduate of Wake Forest University and Columbia University, Matt leads the Words After War workshop at Mellow Pages Library in Brooklyn.

Phil Klay

Phil Klay is a Dartmouth grad and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. He served in Iraq during the Surge and subsequently received an MFA from Hunter College. His first published story, “Redeployment,” appeared in Granta’s Summer 2011 issue. That story led to the sale of his forthcoming collection, which will be published in seven countries. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the New York Daily NewsTin House, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012.

Maurice Decaul

Maurice Decaul is a former Marine and Iraq war veteran. He studied poetry at Columbia University, where he founded the Columbia University Veterans Writing Workshop. Maurice has been a contributor to the New York Times and has had work featured on and in Sierra Magazine.

Mariette Kalinowksi

Mariette Kalinowksi served in the United States Marine Corps from 2002-10, and was deployed twice to Al Taqaddum, Iraq. She is a contributor to Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War.

Helen Benedict

Helen Benedict is the author of six novels and five books of nonfiction. Her latest novel, Sand Queen, set in the Iraq War, is now out in paperback from Soho Press. Benedict’s Sand Queen and The Lonely Soldier, along with her articles about sexual assault in the military, inspired the award-winning documentary The Invisible War.


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Words After War Reading Series “Danger Close: Writers on War”


Our first public event, “Danger Close: Writers on War” will begin at 4 PM on November 2 at ACME Studio, 63 N. 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY. Tickets–which you can purchase HERE–are $10. If you can’t make it to the event, please consider purchasing a ticket for somebody who can, or make a ticket-sized donation!

We are very excited and a little bit nervous. We have somehow managed to land a trio of excellent writers and an extremely accomplished moderator:

Brian Castner

After leaving the active military, Brian became a consultant and contractor, training Army and Marine Corps units prior to their tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. His writing has appeared in a number of national and regional publications, including The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, Publisher’s Weekly, and Garry Trudeau’s The Sandbox anthology. Brian lives outside of Buffalo, New York with his wife and four sons. ”The Long Walk” is his first book.

Katey Schultz

Katey Schultz grew up in Portland, Oregon, and is most recently from Celo, North Carolina. She is a graduate of the Pacific University MFA in Writing Program and recipient of the Linda Flowers Literary Award from the North Carolina Humanities Council. “Flashes of War: Short Stories” is her first book.

Matt Gallagher

Matt Gallagher joined the U.S. Army in 2005 and received a commission in the armored cavalry. Following a fifteen-month deployment in Iraq, Gallagher left the army in 2009. He is the author of “Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War” and the co-editor of “Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War.”

Moderator, Quil Lawrence

Quil Lawrence is an award-winning correspondent for NPR News, covering the millions of Americans who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as they transition to life back at home.

“Danger Close: Writers on War” is the first of an ongoing reading series that will include both veterans and civilians whose work engages with war and its aftermath. Lawrence, Gallagher, Castner, and Schultz will share personal stories of documenting and researching war, as well as the complications of writing war in the 21st century.

We sincerely hope to see you there!


Brandon and Mike

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Read an Interview with Co-founder Mike McGrath and the Billfold

larry-king interview

Excerpts from a recent interview with Words After War co-founder Mike McGrath.

Yesterday Mike was interviewed by The Billfold, a financial-literacy site (and part of The Awl Network). They covered a variety of WAW-related topics. Check out some choice excerpts below and click HERE to read the whole thing. And don’t forget to buy your tickets for our first ever public event, “Danger Close: Writers on War,” Nov. 2 at ACME Studio in Brooklyn. Hope to see you there.

The WAW origin story:

I met Brandon Willitts while getting my MFA at the University of Virginia. He was living in Charlottesville, taking classes at the local community college and grappling with a lot of issues that recently returned veterans frequently experience. We met watching football at a watering hole and bonded over writing/lit. The following semester he started a writing group at Piedmont (his community college) with a professor, myself and our friend Lee, another MFA guy. It was just very obvious that Brandon had a lot on his mind and that the group was a very important, almost necessary outlet. At the time I sort of took it for granted because I was taking workshops almost as a job, but later, after I finished grad school and was released into the largely uncaring world I realized that it can be a really effective support network. I missed having readers and deadlines and feedback. Then, after Brandon finished his B.A. in lit he was working as a veterans’ advocate in NYC and one night we were talking about building a writing studio in the woods behind my parents’ house and that somehow led to Words After War

On the benefits of writing workshops:

We’re all protective of our memories, especially painful or traumatic ones, but one benefit of the workshop environment is to experience these memories from another perspective. And that’s healthy.

On the fiscal challenges facing an emerging non-profit:

Right now, we’re running on empty. Meaning, we are entirely self-funded. It has been difficult. We secured a fiscal sponsorship, which allows us to raise money until the IRS approves our 501(c)(3), which, these days, who knows when that will be. We have reached out to friends and family and other people in our extended network, and we are seriously considering a crowdfunding campaign, but in the end we really do believe that the money we need will come, and, in the meantime, we wanted to get the ball rolling so prospective donors would be able to see exactly where their donations would be going.

As always, we thank you for your time and support. Want to help us provide no-cost, high-quality literary programming for veterans, their families and civilian supporters? Make a tax-deductible donation HERE.

Questions? Concerns? Find us on Twitter and Facebook.


“Danger Close: Writers on War” – Katey Schultz and Flashes of War

Flashes of War

The Airstream

Over the next few weeks we are going to be using the blog to shine a spotlight on the participants of the first installment of “Danger Close: Writers on War,” a series held at Brooklyn’s ACME Studio on November 2, 2013. This week is Katey Schultz, civilian author of Flashes of War.

The panel will include both veterans and civilians whose work engages with war and its aftermath. Award-winning NPR News correspondent Quil Lawrence will serve as moderator for a panel of veteran and civilian authors that will include Matt Gallagher, Brian Castner, Lea Carpenter and Katey Schultz. We hope to see you there!

Allow us to introduce Katey Schultz. Katey’s Flashes of War: Short Stories (Loyola University Maryland, 2013) recently won the Military Writers Society of America’s Gold Medal Award. Read what Duff Brenna of The Los Angeles Review of Books had to say about Katey’s debut collection:

Heartbreaking one moment, triumph the next. Stories filled with an immense humanity, all, together, detailing the trivia, the nonsense, the rudiments and the essentials. The nuts and bolts of war, its lifeblood, its jargon, its maddening absurdities and heroisms and senseless deaths and maimings are laid out in a clear, clean, rhythmic tessellation, united with a deceptively minimalist style that out-Carvers Carver and exposes the traumas of war without any breast-beating outrage. But outrage is what one feels. Outrage and exasperation, as well as a sense of satisfaction at Schultz’s adept achievement.

Katey holds an MFA from Pacific University and is a recipient of the Linda Flowers Literary Award from the North Carolina Humanities Council. She lives in a sweet 1970 Airstream trailer bordering the Pisgah National Forest. Katey’s work illustrates the power of civilian war writing and we are honored that she agreed to be included in this event. Buy her book HERE or buy a copy at the event!

Have a great week.


As always, we thank you for your time and support. Want to help us provide no-cost, high-quality literary programming for veterans, their families and civilian supporters? Make a tax-deductible donation HERE.

Questions? Concerns? Find us on Twitter and Facebook.