Where Can I Join Up? National Groups for Mil-Writers

However widely one defines "military writing"—whether one includes writing history, genre fiction, poetry, etc.—the practice of communicating and documenting military stories is still a pretty specific niche. And that can feel a little lonely.

Local and regional groups sometimes focus, in whole or in part, on workshops for military-themed fiction, non-fiction, and other writing. Often, these are packaged as events for military veterans, but many are also open to family members, current service members, and anyone else who is interested and respectful of military experience. Be on the lookout for such opportunities, and take advantage when and where you can.

Comparing entities that work on a national level can be difficult. Each seems to have a different business and/or organizational model. Some are funded via memberships—an annual fee makes you a "member," underwrites the group's operations, and provides access to member benefits. Others may be better described as arts organizations, which may be funded through grants, sponsorships, fees, and other means. Regardless of respective form, however, each organization provides activities and venues through which military writers can meet, improve skills and knowledge, and network.

Here's a brief round-up of national organizations focused on military writing:

Military Experience & the Arts

Annual dues: N/A

Who is eligible: Military veterans, service members, family members and others who are interested in exploring and communicating the military experience through literary, theatrical, and visual arts.

"MEA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose primary mission is to work with veterans and their families to publish short stories, essays, poems, and artwork in our bi-annual publication, As You Were: The Military Review, periodic editions of Blue Nostalgia: The Journal of Post-Traumatic Growth and others."
  • National symposium (Most recently held 2015 in Lawton, Okla.)
  • Publications

Military Reporters & Editors (M.R.E.)

Annual dues:
  • Active Member: For news-gathering employees of private-sector media organizations: $49 for annual dues; $49 to attend the annual conference.
  • Associate Member: For corporate public affairs officers, diplomats, think-thank staff members, academics and other non-reporters approved for membership by the president and board. $99 for annual dues; $49 to attend the annual conference.
  • DoD Associate Member: For uniformed and civilian Defense Department employees who perform public affairs and other capacities: $49 annual dues/Pay only for lunch at annual conference.
  • Non-Resident Member: For qualified applicants living 50 miles or more outside Washington, D. C. $25 for annual dues; $49 to attend the annual conference.
  • Student: $19 for annual dues/Pay only for lunch at conference.
Membership info: http://militaryreporters.org/join-mre/

Who is eligible: "Working journalists who regularly cover the United States military at home and abroad." Also, public affairs associates and student journalists.

"The Association exists to advance public understanding of the military, national security and homeland defense; to educate and share information with its members and the public on best practices, tools and techniques for such coverage; to represent the interests of working journalists to the government and military; and to assure that journalists have access to places where the U.S. military and its allies operate."
  • MRE members-only networking
  • Discounted Annual MRE conference in Washington, D.C.
  • Discounted Annual Military 101 Conference in Washington, D.C.
  • MRE members’ work is amplified on the Internet–on the organization's website, Twitter, and Facebook pages.
  • Private MRE Facebook page with job bank
  • MRE members-only desk at Pentagon. Members with Department of Defense press pass may use the desk and phone at our exclusive desk in the DoD press area.
  • Opportunities to address Department of Defense forums
  • Annual contest for published materials

Military Writers Guild

Annual dues: None; however, applicants to member must be sponsored by an existing member

Membership info: http://www.militarywritersguild.org/about/membership-in-mwg/

Who is eligible: Writers of military-themed fiction, creative non-fiction, essay, history, research, drama, poetry

"The Military Writers Guild exists to gather writers committed to the development of the profession of arms through the exchange of ideas in the written medium.

Through its members, The Guild will encourage an open dialogue from diverse perspectives, thereby supporting the study of military affairs, spread knowledge of the military profession, and increase the assistance available to those writing in the national security space.

The Guild will help foster a strong peer ecosystem focused on writing about military affairs through our ability to, 'Advocate, Collaborate, and Promote.'"
  • Access to an informal on-line collaboration site
  • Membership directory (TBP)

Military Writers Society of America (M.W.S.A.)

Annual dues: $75 U.S.

Membership info: http://www.mwsadispatches.com/membership/

Who is eligible:
"Anyone with a connection to … or an affinity for the US military 
Did your second great grandfather serve during the Civil War?  That's good enough for us!
Most of us are veterans—or spouses of veterans—but we're basically looking for people who care about our country and its military."
"We are a nation-wide association of authors, poets, and artists, drawn together by the common bond of military service.  Most of our members are active duty military, retirees, or military veterans.  A few are lifelong civilians who have chosen to honor our military through their writings or their art.  Others have only a tangential relationship to the military.  Our only core principle is a love of the men and women who defend this nation, and a deeply personal understanding of their sacrifice and dedication."

MilSpeak Foundation

Annual dues: N/A

Who is eligible: Military service members, veterans, families, and caregivers

"MilSpeak Foundation, Inc., is a 501(c)3 public charitable organization that supports, promotes, and celebrates the creative arts endeavors of our military service members, veterans, families, and caregivers through MilSpeak instructional on-site and online seminars and workshops, online publishing platforms, and resource advocacy for the purposes of documenting and preserving military history, increasing public awareness about the cross-generational impact of military experience, recognizing and promoting the wellness connection between arts-related activity and stress management, and fostering a warm community of artists."
  • "On Point" Seminars & Workshops, including events specific to women-veterans
  • Publications / Publishing

Society for Military History

Member dues:
  • Regular Individual Membership (U.S. and Canada): $70
  • Two-Year Regular Individual Membership (U.S. and Canada): $140
  • Regular Individual Membership (Overseas): $80
  • Two-Year Individual Membership (Overseas): $160
  • Student Membership (5-year renewable annually - electronic-only access to publications): $25
  • Sustaining Membership (includes annual membership and contribution to SMH): $120
  • Two-Year Sustaining Membership (includes annual membership and contribution to SMH): $240
Membership info: http://www.smh-hq.org/membership/individual.html

"Established in 1933 as the American Military History Foundation, renamed in 1939 the American Military Institute, and renamed again in 1990 the Society for Military History, the Society is devoted to stimulating and advancing the study of military history. Its membership (today more than 2,700) has included many of the world's most prominent scholars, soldiers, and citizens interested in military history."
  • Journal of Military History, including back issues to 1937
  • Headquarters Gazette quarterly
  • Annual conference
  • Membership directory 
  • Awards program

Veterans Writing Project

Annual dues: N/A

Who is eligible: Military veterans, service members, and family members who are interested exploring the military experience via the literary and theatrical arts.

"[W]e provide no-cost writing seminars and workshops for veterans, service members, and their adult family members. We’re also building an archive of writing by members of the military community. We publish a quarterly literary review and an ongoing scroll of writing by our friends on our sister site, O-Dark-Thirty."
  • Cadre of traveling, MFA-qualified instructors can provide weekend or weeklong blocks of instruction
  • Mentoring
  • Publications

Warrior Writers

Annual dues: N/A

Who is eligible: Military veterans, service members, family, and community members

Membership info: http://www.warriorwriters.org/involved.html

"We are a community of military veterans, service members, artists, allies, and healers dedicated to creativity and wellness. We use writing, painting, photography, and a host of other mediums to reflect on our experiences and express them creatively. Warrior Writers is a national non-profit organization, based in Philadelphia, with members and activities across the country."
Do you have another national organization to suggest adding to this list? Perhaps a regional one? Send suggestions to: Sherpa AT redbullrising DOT com.

Want to receive exclusive early-bird notice of military-themed writing opportunities, events, and markets? Join our community of practice for as little as $1 a month! Details here: www.patreon.com/aimingcircle.