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Apply now: War Horse writing seminar for Post-9/11 Gold Star children

Sarah Flores, a military spouse caregiver, takes notes during a session with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Joshua Friedman at The Carey Institute for Global Good. Photo credit: VA News

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For two decades, military children watched as their parents trained and deployed in support of the Global War on Terror. In doing so, they shouldered a unique burden that few discuss and that too often is misunderstood or ignored by the American public.

These young people watched their families struggle and succeed as they navigated the problematic realities of military service and transitioning to life as a veteran - the constant moves, being misunderstood by their communities, and like service members and veterans, the mental health challenges that come from a life in uniform.

But for more than 7,000 families, the loved one they sent to war came home in a flag-draped coffin. Others lost their parents to suicide, illness and training accidents. Now, as young adults contributing to our democracy, these men and women possess a valuable perspective that needs to be shared with all Americans.

From May 8-12, 2023, The War Horse News will host a Writing Seminar for Post-9/11 Gold Star Children at the Lucky Spur Ranch in Justin, TX. The seminar is expenses-paid for 12 participants, with travel, meals and room accommodations paid for by The War Horse. Mentors include award-winning authors, journalists and editors. The goal of this seminar is to help Gold Star children not only write and publish their own stories of sacrifice and service, but convey to the public the profound human impact of military service.

The War Horse has trained more than 60 veterans and military service members during five writing seminars, and has earned the reputation as the preeminent professional development program for veterans and military spouses in journalism. The newsroom is excited to welcome its first cohort of Post-9/11 Gold Star children, who possess a deep understanding of the human impact of military service. This weeklong, intimate workshop brings together world-class journalists, authors, agents and publishers who work with The War Horse team to nurture them as the next generation of military writers. War Horse Fellows have written for local, regional and international news outlets, published memoirs and spoken at South by Southwest.

"The War Horse's writing seminar was among the most significant professional development experiences I have ever had," said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Dan Woodward, who serves on the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Eligibility requirements

  • Eligible applicants will be between the ages of 18 and 35 at the time of the event, May 8-12, 2023.
  • Eligible applicants will have lost a parent or legal guardian serving on active duty after Sept. 11, 2001. The children of service members who died in combat, by suicide, from illness, and during training accidents are encouraged to apply.
  • At this time, we are able to support travel for applicants originating from a CONUS location.
  • Applications will be accepted up until 11:59 p.m. EST on February 28, 2023.
  • More information and the application for eligible participants is located here:

What to expect after applying

  • All applicants will receive a confirmation email that their application has been received.
  • Following review by the selection committee, finalists will be contacted for a brief phone conversation about their story ideas during March.
  • The 12 selected fellows will be notified of their acceptance in early April 2023. Declinations will be sent shortly thereafter.

Resources in case you aren't selected

  • Read The War Horse's archive of first-person reflections by veterans and military family members to familiarize yourself with the newsroom's work.
  • The War Horse frequently works with new and established writers outside of our writing seminars. Learn about The War Horse's submission guidelines, here. Please be patient, as The War Horse is a small team that receives frequent submissions.
  • Military Veterans in Journalism works to build community for veterans, support their career growth in journalism, and advocate for diversifying newsrooms through hiring and promoting more veterans. Learn more, here.
  • Subscribe to The War Horse's weekly newsletter to stay informed on upcoming writing seminars and the most important news about Veterans and military families.

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of VA.

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