Writing Becomes a Release for Veterans Suffering from PTSD

One of the first major concerns service members face after a long deployment is coming to terms with some of the things they may now carry forever—namely, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As a writer I’ve always felt that a good way to deal with these overwhelming feelings is to get them out by putting them to paper. For me, this doesn’t mean letting the world in, it just allows me to let the bad memories out. Either way, it’s always been a comforting way to say what needs to be said.

A Plan of Action

Deborah Marshall and Dr. Susan Swartwout are two writers that decided to do something similar in order to help veterans.These dedicated women took it upon themselves to teach veterans how to become writers, and then authors.

The only catch—writing had to be based on the veterans’ real-life experiences. And so began the mission for over 30 veterans turned writers to turn their memories into an anthology.

Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors” was edited in early 2012 by Dr. Swartwout and released on Veterans Day that same year. The goal of which wasn’t just to say they had completed a book together, it was meant to inspire hope and healing for those suffering from post-traumatic stress, as well as let the world know what they had to say.

The first volume, backed by the Missouri Humanities Council, Warrior Arts Alliance and Southeast Missouri State University Press, saw admissions ranging from essays and poetry, to photographs and short stories. The 74 unique entries cover topics from World War I to the present. While the idea and book was initially established in Missouri, veteran writers hailed from as far away as South Carolina and Minnesota.

Feels Good to Get it Out

Participating veterans said that the writing workshop and book collection became a great way to reconnect not only with other veterans, but the civilian population that hasn’t always understood them. The writers also felt that because they each felt like they had a unique perspective on military life and travels, they became more motivated to share their stories.

If you or someone you know would like to be part of “Proud to be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 2” please contact the Warrior Arts Alliance and submit your work.

Photo courtesy JoelMontes