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 Veterans
 transforming
 their lives
 through
 art

Footage courtesy of Sara Nesson


 

"It has been an amazing experience. It's a collaborative project and it's not something any of us could have done alone. I used to write before I went to Iraq, but when I got over there, I wasn't able to write. So through the Warrior Writers Project I have been able to slowly begin to find my words again and share my experiences and what happened over there. It's been a healing experience." 
- Eli Wright, Iraq veteran, artist

Who We Are
We are a community of military veterans, service members, artists, allies, civilians, and healers dedicated to creativity and wellness. We use writing, painting, photography, and a host of other mediums to reflect on our experiences and to articulate/express them creatively. Though Warrior Writers is a Philadelphia-based organization, we have members and activities across the U.S. including Chicago, the Bay area, New York, Texas, Boston, Oklahoma, Colorado and more. Staff Directory
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What We Do
Warrior Writers is a veteran-focused arts organization that fosters artistic exploration and expression through casual, welcoming workshops and retreats. By reflecting and creating in a comfortable and open space, we encourage and support healing and community building.

Art making becomes the creative tool through which we understand and transcend experiences of trauma and emotional disruptions that are not easily identified but constantly felt.

Creative works are shared with the public in the form of books, performances and exhibitions, empowering veterans to share experiences openly and artistically, and providing opportunities for the broader public to better understand veterans’ experiences.

Through Warrior Writers, veterans have created a network of support and reprieve where artistic growth is developed and lasting friendship is built. Using art as language, we help bridge the gap between veterans and civilians.

Workshops, Retreats, Trainings, and Events
Writing Workshops
• For Veterans and Service Members: These creative workshops offer prompts that cover a variety of military issues and experiences. This encourages sharing stories, opinions, and ideas for productive writing/reflecting/story-telling and art-making. A highlight of these workshops for many veterans is having a space to release bottled-up thoughts and emotions among others who understand, creating a sense of empowerment in the ability to tell their own story. By creating an open and accepting atmosphere, we build a community of support. Workshops are for any service member or veteran regardless of experiences with writing, combat, art, deployment, etc.
• For Military Families and Community Members: Writing workshops for military family and community members build a supportive environment to explore and share stories, memories, dreams and ideas through creative expression. Prompts and discussions cover issues and experiences relating to living in a military community, deployment and homecoming of loved ones, relationships, supporting each other, healing, and growth. No previous writing or artistic experience is necessary for participation.

Veterans and Community Conferences (VCCs)
These powerful weekend retreats, mainly focused on art-making and wellness, are open to veterans, service members, artists, supporters and healers. During our VCCs, we offer writing and various art-making workshops like paper-making, journal-making, photography, and screen printing; seminars on how to build healthy relationships between veterans and allies; and alternative healing techniques such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and yoga. /p>

Art Exhibitions and Performances
In addition to creating art, we present performances and exhibitions showcasing the writing and artwork that veterans have created at our writing and art-making workshops.

Community Gatherings
To create space for discussion, connection and ideas, we hold community gatherings to come together and talk about our experiences with Warrior Writers and the larger veteran community. In the past, events have included volunteer orientations, dessert discussions, potlucks, art-making sessions, etc.

Trainings for Facilitators, Organizations, Universities, Companies
• Working With Veterans 101: This workshop is centered around building healthy relationships between service members/veterans and civilians. Some areas of learning and exploration include veterans’ issues/experiences, Post Traumatic Stress, guidance on positive ways to engage veterans, etc. We utilize creative writing/art-making, dialogue, participatory learning and active listening processes as well as artwork of veterans/soldiers to guide discussions.  
• Facilitator Training: Experienced facilitators who have led previous Warrior Writers workshops conduct trainings for service members, veterans, allies and community members who are interested in facilitating workshops. Participants who do not have experience with the military community must attend a Working With Veterans 101 training before attending any workshop. The format begins with prompts similar to a standard Warrior Writers workshop, but includes added tips, conversations and a “Do-It-Yourself” guide. Participation in this workshop does not authorize one to lead workshops under the Warrior Writers name, but is a stepping stone in the process.

Past Workshops and Events
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Mission
Our mission is to create a culture that articulates veterans' experiences, provide a creative community for artistic expression, and bear witness to the lived experiences of warriors.

Values
Respect for ourselves, each other, our experiences, and our creative community
Honesty
Transformation (Deconstruction/Reconstruction)
Ownership/pride in our work and our experiences

Goals
Provide opportunities for veterans to be in creative community
Provide opportunities for veterans to engage in artistic expression
Support the creation and sustainability of ongoing creative communities
Create visibility for veteran artists and their work
Support the incorporation of creativity in organizing efforts
Support veterans in the discovery of the arts as a transformative tool
Tell the truths about veterans experiences
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Reviews/Press/Awards

Webby Award 2010   Cool Site of the DayAug. 26, 2009   Canadian Web Award Five Maple Leaves

Coverage of Coming Home Exhibition and Workshops: Yellow Springs News, WYSO, Ch. 2 Dayton, OH
"Talking to my daughter aboutMy Service in Iraq" Nicole Goodwin, New York Times

"War stories, in words, photos" by Michael Vitez, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Warrior Voices" by Cecilia Capuzzi SImon, The New York Times
"The Things They Carry," by Kristin Pellottier, ISSUU Literary Magazine
"Writing the Way Home." Review of After Action Review by Jan Barry
"The Lesson I Learned in War" by Jennifer Pacanowski, EarthAirWater
"Fine Art Views Interview: Sarah Eilefson" by Brian Sherwin, Fine Art Views
"War, in all its inhumanity and humanness" by Lori Waxman, Chicago Tribune
Deconstructing war, showing contrast" by Lori Waxman, Chicago Tribune
"Combat Poetry: Swords into Ploughshares and Paper" by Judith Rosen, Publishers Weekly
"Iraq Veterans Publish New Book," by Pamela Polston, Seven Days
"Surviving Iraq: Soldiers' Stories and Warrior Writers: Re-Making Sense," Army Times
"Writing War," Review of  Move, Shoot and Communicate by Jan Barry
"Writers at Work," by Jan Barry
"Peace Talks," Seven Days
Intro to Re-making Sense Reading by David Huddle
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