Military Experience & the Arts

The further I get into my master’s program, the more intertwined my military experience and my writing become. While my novel has always been military-related, it has only been since I started my program in January that I really began digging into the military/veteran writing community. What I’ve found is that there are some very talented veterans who also know how to write and some very awesome organizations who are helping them get their writing out there to be read. This week, I’ll talk about a few of these organizations, starting with Military Experience & the Arts.

Military Experience & the Arts (MEA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit which helps military veterans explore their creative impulses, with a strong emphasis on the arts as therapy, and share their creations with the public. The non-profit grew out of a 2011 college class designed to use the arts to help student veterans transition. The class, held at Eastern Kentucky University, was created by former Army Sergeant, Iraq veteran, and current MEA President, Travis Martin.

The products of this first class – stories, poetry, and artwork – would become the first volume of The Journal of Military Experience, one of several of MEA’s publications. Over the last few years, it has also published The Blue Falcon Review: A Journal of Military Fiction, The Blue Streak: A Journal of Military Poetry, and Blue Nostalgia: A Journal of Post-Traumatic Growth. Recently, however, MEA has combined its publications into a single new publication titled As You Were.

MEA also recently announced that it is looking to fill board, staff, and editorial positions, including President, Director of Art, Fiction Editor, and Public Relations Director. These are currently all volunteer positions. If, like me, you’d like to be part of MEA’s mission but are still working on building your writing credentials, you can also volunteer to be a reader. You can find further details and guidelines about the positions, as well as an e-mail contact for questions, here. And they are incredibly responsive – I got a response within a few hours to my request to be a reader.

If you’re looking for an even more hands-on option, Military Experience & the Arts will be hosting their second Symposium May 14-17, 2015. Held this time at Cameron University in Oklahoma, the Symposium will feature daily workshops, nightly performances, guest speakers, and, perhaps most importantly, the chance to meet and collaborate with other veterans who write. Registration is $20 (non-refundable). While some meals will be provided and they are working on trying to obtain free or discounted lodging, expect that travel and most meal/accommodations will be the attendee’s responsibility. They are also looking for workshop leaders, sponsors, and volunteers. For more details, or to get registered, click here.

Whether you are a veteran thinking about writing, a writer who happens to be a veteran, or simply a veteran looking to read the words of our fellow vets, take a few minutes to check out Military Experience & the Arts’ page. All of their previously published works are available on their webpage – for FREE. For those looking to submit, As You Were will accept fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and artwork submissions. Every submission receives one-on-one attention. Submission guidelines and assistance/expectations are clearly stated on their page.

© 2014, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.

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