Remembering WWII nurses.

How many times have family or friends listened to you tell one of your stories and said, “you should write a book!” If you are a veteran, on active-duty or retired, or a member of a military family, there is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping you learn the writing skills to do exactly that.

The Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) offers a unique (and free!) one-day workshop each year at the start of their annual conference called “Write Your Story.” This year the workshop will be held in New London, CT on Sept. 16, and followed by the conference from Sept. 17-19, 2021

Many writers have gotten their start working with the prize-winning authors who volunteer to teach these workshops and share their knowledge about storytelling, character development, how to write a scene, short story, memoir, poetry, and many other aspects of writing.

How did such an opportunity to learn to write get started? In 1998, Vietnam veteran and author Bill McDonald built a website presence, titled “The Vietnam Experience,” for his old Army unit that he served with in the Vietnam War (the 128th Assault Helicopter Company).

Like many soldiers, it had taken years for Bill to speak, and write, about what he had experienced in the midst of battle back in the 1960s. That original website began with some of the poetry and prose he had composed while serving in South Vietnam. Starting with his own war memories, he eventually expanded to include dozens of his comrades who had also begun to write about their experiences. The website took off. During the first six months, online traffic increased to over 17,000 visitors a month, eventually peaking at close to 275,000 a month after he participated in the making of “In the Shadow of the Blade,” a war documentary produced by Arrowhead Films.

The Vietnam Experience website eventually surpassed 30 million total visitors by 2008, and McDonald had gone on to create the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA), a nationwide association of authors, poets, and artists drawn together by the common bond of military service.

Today, most members are active-duty military, veterans, or retirees, but lifelong civilians are also welcome to join. Some members are world class writers, with many successful books. Others write only for the eyes of their friends and family. But each started with a tale to tell.

The early goal of MWSA was simply to provide a safe community where military writers and veterans would be welcomed and appreciated. Membership was automatic if you were a veteran, or part of a military family, regardless of whether you wrote fiction, nonfiction or poetry.

Part of Bill McDonald’s purpose was his desire to help veterans with PTSD to experience the healing effects of artistic expression – particularly writing. And, he wanted writers to know that what they wrote mattered.

As interest grew in the organization, he established a system for book reviews and awards.

In the early days of MWSA, Bill read and reviewed every book that was sent in by fledgling or seasoned authors. Today, there are review and award committees, and more than 300 books each year are considered for prestigious awards.

Bill’s participation has been limited by some physical setbacks in recent years but he is still actively writing reviews and cheering on writers.

Currently, MWSA is expanding its membership and looking for more ways to serve the military community. Each year MWSA donates books to VA hospitals and veteran organizations. In 2014 alone, over $18,000 worth of books were donated to the VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.

In addition, the organization helps various youth programs and schools across the country to promote writing skills. Members are invited to publish their work in a quarterly magazine, Dispatches, and an annual anthology.

To learn more, visit the Military Writers Society of America website at:

I’m honored to be a Writing Education Ambassador for MWSA and I encourage writers of all levels to attend our free workshop on Sept. 16, 2021 in New London, CT if you are a veteran, active/retired military or a military family member. The workshop runs from 9 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. with a free lunch and complimentary workshop materials.

For more information and to reserve your spot, write to: [email protected] or call (860) 536-3701 and leave a message. It’s time to write your story!