In 2019, AWA is implementing a new initiative we’re very excited about. Working together with Suzanne Rancourt (a military veteran herself and an AWA facilitator who already leads workshops with veterans) and Al Miller (also an AWA facilitator and a Vietnam veteran), we are launching a three-part process to create and offer workshops for military service people and their families.

November 22–24, 2019 we will be holding a training session, led by Suzanne and Al (see more about these leaders below) for AWA facilitators who are interested in working with veterans and veterans’ families (in separate workshops).

At the same time, we are developing relationships in the East, the West and middle America, as well as in Canada, with organizations who will be willing to host and sponsor AWA writing style writing workshops with these populations of military service people and their families.

In 2020 we will be rolling out the series of workshops for veterans and for veterans’ families. We will be tracking the life circumstances, issues and coping skills of people entering these workshops and again when the series are finished, to determine what, if any, benefit the workshops will have been for participants.

We want to acknowledge that there are stereotypes and statistics about military personnel who have served and returned home and that we are aware that many military veterans are able to integrate back into society with relative ease. There are also some military personnel, however, who have had challenges with returning home. No matter what the issues facing workshop participants, it is almost a given that military personnel can feel isolated through their experiences when returning home. Some are afraid of upsetting others with stories of service. Sharing our stories is a powerful part of our identity and of creating community.

Here are some facts about military veterans:

    • Veterans are people who served in the military (US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard) in times of war or peace.[1]
    • 3 states are home to more than a million veterans: California (1.8 million), Florida (1.5 million), and Texas (1.7 million).[2]
    • The unemployment rate of post-9/11 veterans (aka “Gulf War-era II veterans”) is 6.2%.[3]
    • There are currently over 2 million female veterans in the United States.[4]
    • Veterans make up 12% of the adult homeless population.[5]
    • 70% of homeless veterans suffer from substance abuse, while 50% experience mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which makes it harder to maintain relationships and hold down a job.[6]
    • Many homeless veterans end up living on the streets for 8 or 9 times the length of their deployments.[7]
    • Gulf War-era veterans now account for the largest share of all U.S. veterans, surpassing Vietnam-era veterans in 2016, according to Veterans Affairs’ 2016 population model estimates. As of last year, there were 6.8 million American veterans who served during the Vietnam era and 7.1 million who served in the Gulf War era, which spans from August 1990 through the present. (Some veterans served through both eras.) There were also around 771,000 World War II veterans and 1.6 million who served during the Korean conflict, the VA estimates. About three-quarters (77%) of veterans in 2016 served during wartime and 23% only served during peacetime.

Our Instructors:

About Suzanne Rancourt, Veteran and AWA Facilitator About Al Miller, Veteran and AWA Facilitator
“I am honored and excited to be working with you on manifesting this vision I’ve had for so many years. As a veteran I know what my problems are and what I need.”

Suzanne Rancourt was born and raised in the mountains of West Central Maine. Her story is unique in that her rural, woodland upbringing offered her the experiential framework that is now the paradigm from which she draws endless resources. Whether working with artists/ recipients, survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury, other life altering traumatic events, or people living with disability challenges, Ms. Rancourt has further developed her experiences with formal education, military service, and 30+ years of professional practice.

Read more at Suzanne’s website:


Al writes:
“Nearly twenty years ago in a writing workshop [not an AWA Method workshop] I could tell that I was creating stress for other participants with the things I choose to write and read aloud. The workshop leader came to me and confirmed that I was welcome to remain if I could write about other subjects or soften what I chose to write.

It was much like returning from combat to civil society, I thought.

I got up the nerve to call Pat Schneider whom I had admired from a distance. I felt compelled to tell her the dangers of having me in her community of writers. I shared with her that I wrote about dreams that woke me with regularity that placed me back in fire fights, ambushes, fighting close quarter for breath, firing my weapon into the bodies of other men, and how I came to experience non-separation.

Pat told me I could write what I needed to and if I needed to write about it one maggot at a time, she personally would protect my right to do so.

Today I am looking at her book Writing Alone and With Others looking at the framework she created. A place for soldiers, mothers, fathers, all of us children at one time, and all of us with stories to share.”

~ Al Miller, Vietnam Veteran and AWA facilitator

If you are interested in becoming involved in this program, the first step is to register for the post-certificate training this November 22–24. If you’d like more information or if you have questions, reach out to Sue Reynolds at

[1] U.S. Census Bureau. “Veterans – Definitions and Concepts.” May 21, 2013
[2] U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics – Veteran Population.” Oct 21, 2014
[3] U.S. Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Economic News Release – Table A-5. Employment status of the civilian population 18 years and over by veteran status, period of service, and sex, not seasonally adjusted.” Oct 3, 2014
[4] U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics – Veteran Population.” Oct 21, 2014
[5] National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. “Background and Statistics – FAQ on Homeless Veterans.”
[6] National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. “Background and Statistics – FAQ on Homeless Veterans.”
[7] Department of Veterans Affairs. “National Survey of Homeless Veterans in 100,000 Homes Campaign Communities.” Nov 2011

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