Roman Baca is a former Marine and founder of EXIT12, a contemporary dance company committed to creating and performing works of high cultural significance that inspire conversations about worldly differences and the lasting effects of violence and conflict on communities, families, and individuals. Through movement, we educate audiences about the reality of war, advocate diversity and mutual understanding through cultural exchange, and champion the humanity and dignity of all persons. EXIT12 supports and advances the notion that art heals, and is devoted to serving those who have been touched by conflict by expressing their stories.
Thom D. Balmer earned a B.A. in Sociology and Biblical Studies in 1979, a M.Div. in Psychiatric Chaplaincy in 1984, a M.A. in Family Therapy in 1987, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Studies in 2011. His doctoral thesis was a qualitative research project entitled, “A Phenomenological Study of Spiritual Values in Secular-Based Marriage and Family Therapists.” He has taught for over 18 years at several universities including East Central University, Southeastern State University, Southern Nazarene University, and Cisco Junior College. He joined the faculty at Cameron January 2012.
Dr. Balmer has practiced as a mental health professional since 1982, became a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in 1986 and a licensed marital & family therapist (LMFT) in 1991, and has experience with both inpatient and outpatient mental health services. He has served on the Licensed Marital & Family Therapist Advisory Board for the state of Oklahoma, and provides consultation and trainings on ethical issues. Dr. Balmer is an Oklahoma State approved LPC and LMFT supervisor, and holds credentials as a clinical fellow and approved supervisor with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
As full-time faculty, Dr. Balmer has taught professional counseling courses, marriage and family therapy courses, general and advanced psychology courses, ethics courses, crisis intervention courses, human sexuality courses, and practicum throughout his career.
He has extensive experience working with couples, families, and military personnel suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. He enjoys assisting fellow veterans in attaining proper compensation and medical services from the Veterans Administration. He is a state certified services officer with the American Legion Post #72, and is in the process to become a national certified services officer with the Vietnam Veterans of America Post 751. He served with the 82nd Airborne as a 4.2 Mortar man from 1973 to 1975.
His research interests include trauma resilience, trauma recovery, and marital and family wellness among military and civilian personnel, and spirituality and secular-counseling.
Jerri Bell is the Managing Editor for O-Dark-Thirty, the literary journal of the Veterans Writing Project. Her Navy assignments included sea duty on USS Mount Whitney and HMS Sheffield and attaché duty at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. She also served in collateral assignments as a Navy Family Advocacy Program Officer, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program Officer, and sexual assault victim advocate. She has published both fiction and nonfiction, and her work has won prizes in the West Virginia Writers annual competition and from Words After War. She lives in Southern Maryland with her husband and two teenage sons.
Chandra Boyd (Arts Learning in Communities Director) has more than 15 years experience in arts education, having held positions with the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City Community College, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. A current member of the National Art Education Association, Oklahoma Museums Association, and Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, Boyd holds a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Oklahoma City University with an emphasis on Marketing and Art History. She also earned Bachelor of Arts in Art History and French from Oklahoma State University. As Arts Learning in Communities Director, she oversees the Arts Learning in Communities Programs and is the Accessibility Coordinator for the Council.
Randy Brown- aka “Charlie Sherpa” is a military-focused blogger. Randy Brown started the Red Bull Rising blog in December 2009.Brown retired from uniformed service Dec. 31, 2010. In May 2011, he traveled to Afghanistan to embed with “Task Force Red Bulls” as a civilian journalist. “More like an ‘unofficial unit historian,'” he says. During 20 years in the U.S. Army National Guard, Brown managed tactical communications systems such as radios, telephones, and computers. At battalion and brigade levels, he held primary staff assignments in personnel, intelligence, logistics, and communications.
Tiana Buckner is currently enrolled at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma as a Graphic Design Major. She has lived in many different places throughout my life and has always enjoyed taking part in artistic/creative activities. She is still experimenting with charcoal, and loves the intensity and richness of charcoal. She also enjoys working with pen, watercolor. She likes to be expressive and let inspiration take over when she makes art. She also enjoys other activities such as reading, exploring/hiking, swimming, playing strategy games (such as Catan), learning, and much more.
Michelle Burns recently retired as an instructor at Bryant and Stratton College in Milwaukee Wisconsin. There she taught every level of writing and composition from pre-college to advanced, Business and Technical Writing, and Literature. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree Cum Laude from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay in English Education. She also holds a Master’s Degree in English and a Graduate Certificate in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Her Master’s Thesis was the first Memoir Thesis at UWO and can be viewed online. One essay from her thesis described an incident from her military career called Aberdeen. She has also won first prize for a travel poem called Grandpa’s Farm with the literary journal Free Verse. Michelle served in the US Army and Army Reserves from 1992-2000 as Fuel and Electrical Systems Specialist on Heavy Wheeled and Track Vehicles. She also served as a HEMTT Wrecker Driver and Operator. Michelle currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Greg; her three younger children; three dogs, three cats, and four guinea pigs.
Joseph R. Carvalko (U.S. Air Force, ’59-’64, 307th Bomb Wing, SAC).is the author of Death by Internet, a Novel (Sunbury Press, 2016); We Were Beautiful Once, Chapters from the Cold War, a Novel (Sunbury Press, 2013), finalist Best Historical Fiction, Military Writers Society of America, 2014; Behind the Steel, poetry (Amphora Lit. Press, 2015); Detras del Acero (Editorial Trance, 2015, original Spanish poetry, 97pp.); A Road Once Traveled, Life from All Sides, Memoir (2007); A Deadly Fog, book of poems and essays and poems (2004); The Techno-Human Shell: A Jump in the Evolutionary Gap (Sunbury Press) Nonfiction; co-authored (Cara Morris) The Science and Technology Guidebook for Lawyers (ABA Pub., May, 2014, 398 pp). Poems: Mobius Strip, (FLARE: The Flagler Review and in Anomalie Magazine, RE: mind, Goldsmiths University of London, 2015); County Road 80, Manifest West (U. Press of CO, fall 2014); Registered Letter, Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 2 (MS Hum. Council, and SE MS State University Press, 2013); The Road Home, finalist, (Esurance Poetry prize, 2012); The Interior, book of poetry, finalist (Red Mountain Press, 2012). Short stories: Winter Interrupted, All Gave Some (Military Writers Society of America, Anthology, 2014); Road to Suwon (Military Experience and the Arts, 2014); Reminders of the Next Round, (Storytellers, 2013).
Carvalko is also a lawyer and engineer devotes his attention to the intersection of law and technology. As a researcher and engineer, he had worked in radar, optics, A.I. (pattern recognition), biomedical devices and communications. He holds 12 patents (1978-2014, some jointly) in electronics, biomedical, and computers. Currently he is an adjunct professor of Law, Science and Technology at Quinnipiac University School of Law; a member of the IEEE, Soc. on Social Implications of Tech., and IEEE Eng. in Medicine and Biology Soc.; member of the ABA, Sec. of Science and Technology Law, and former ed. board member of SciTech Lawyer and former chair of the Behavioral Sciences Committee. He is also a member of the Yale Community Bioethics Forum of the Program on Biomedical Ethics at Yale School of Medicine; a member of the Yale Technology and Ethics working research group. He has authored numerous papers and articles: Law and Policy in an Era of Cyborg-Assisted-Life (IEEE, Tech & Soc.); Introduction to an Ontology of Intellectual Property (ABA SciTech); Intellectual Property Issues in the Financial & Banking Industries (PA Bar Assn); Who Should Own In-The-Body Medical Data in the Age of Electronic Medicine? (IEEE, Soc. & Tech Mag.); Patents Pave Way for Strategies in IP Intensive Environments (Cisco World); An Alternative for Distillate Fuel Filtration, (Diesel & Gas Worldwide). Co-author: On Determining Optimum Simple Golay Marking Transforms for Binary Image Processing, (IEEE Trans. on Computers) and Evaluation of a High Resolution Television Microscope, (Proc. of the IEEE). He authored, Basic Copyright chapter: Now What? The Creative Writer’s Guide to Success after the MFA (Fairfield U. Press); New Medical Technologies-the Emergence of Pharmaco-Electronics chapter: Biotechnology and the Law (ABA Pub., 2015). Co-authored article, Crowdsourcing Biological Specimen Identification, Consumer Technology Applied to Health Care Access, (IEEE Consumer Electronics, Jan. 2015). Learn more at Carvalko.com.
He is admitted to practice law in CT, NY, and before the U.S. Pat. & TM Office. He holds a JD, Quinnipiac University School of Law, BS in Electrical Engineering, Fairfield University, and a MFA (Writing) from Fairfield University.
David Chrisinger is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he teaches a first-year seminar to student veterans on the history of American veterans coming home from war. He also teaches an introductory public policy writing class to graduate students at Johns Hopkins University and works as a professional writer and editor for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. David graduated from the University of Chicago with a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences in 2010. On October 26th, 2013, David and his best friend, Brett Foley—a Marine Corps combat veteran—ran a 50-mile ultramarathon after raising over $7,000 for The Mission Continues, a national service organization that helps veterans transition from the military to service and leadership programs where they can continue to serve in their communities. David is passionate about working with veterans, helping them tell their stories of war and coming home.
Amanda Coates received a BFA in painting from Cameron University. While at Cameron University, she was a recipient of the prestigious McMahon Fine Art Scholarship from 2013 to 2015. An extremely versatile and prolific artist, Amanda has exhibited her paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures in 13 exhibits including a solo show in the Cameron University Science Complex. Amanda also was accepted into the 38th Toys Designed By Artists, a national juried exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center. Recently she was awarded a research grant by Cameron University to illustrate the evolutionary timeline located in the Science Complex.
Leah Coming learned the joy of working one-on-one with writers at the Notre Dame Writing Center, where she tutored for almost three years. A fiction writer herself, she is continually amazed in the way that conversation with another person can enliven and enlighten a creative work and its maker, and is grateful to be able to work as a one-on-one writing consultant at the MEA Symposium. Currently, Leah is an apprentice in hospitality, personalism, and conscience-formation in the Catholic tradition. With David’s Heart ministry to military, former military and family members, she participates in the Church’s healing and reconciling work, and is committed to learning how writing can be a part of this. She is also a live-in staff member at the South Bend Catholic Worker house of hospitality, a bustling community where almost nonstop meal preparation, dishwashing, laughter, gardening, prayer, music making, and chicken-raising make life joyous and unpredictable.
Sarah Darling has been participating in art at Cameron University for the past 5 years. She will be graduating this year with a degree in Art, concentration in painting. She also has a strong passion for sciences, and she works to unify both in her paintings. In the fall of 2013, her work was in a showing at Cameron University’s Science Complex, featuring 11 works of art with Physics as a basic theme. In the Spring of 2014, one of her gouache and ink paintings was accepted into Momentum, held in Oklahoma City. Through a visual stimulus, she continues to work to let people know about the marriage between the Arts and Sciences.
Lisa Day is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of Women & Gender Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, where she also serves as the campus Survivors’ Advocate. She is an active member of the Women’s Art Collective of Kentucky (WACKy),. Her best friend is Scout, a 6-year-old Australian Shepherd.
Marc DiPaolo is an Associate Professor of English and Film, and Assistant Director of the University Honors Program at Oklahoma City Universtiy.
David Fisher is currently a Ph.D. candidate writing his dissertation on moral injury in combat veterans. He holds a M.A. in Depth Psychology, a Masters in International Management and a B.A. in Quantitative Methods and Computer Science. He has presented papers at several conferences including: Retrieving my soul: a combat veteran returns home. American Psychological Association Division 32 Conference. Chicago, Violence and war: distance and disassociation and Coming home from war: a lived experience. He has studied shamanic soul retrieval under Melinda Allec and art workshops under Freydon Rassouli. In the military David spent six years in the Marines as a Small Missile Technician and Primary Marksmanship Instructor, deploying to Desert Shield and Storm where he earned his combat action ribbon among other awards. While in the Marines he also earned three meritorious masts and was meritoriously promoted to LCPL and SGT. After a ten year hiatus, he joined the US Navy Reserve and qualified as a Naval Special Warfare Intelligence Specialist, deploying to Iraqi Freedom where he briefed 114 Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) missions in 122 days, earning a Navy Achievement Medal.
SC (Steve) Gooch is a Ph.D. student at Purdue University and an instructor at Oklahoma City University. He has facilitated comics-making workshops for secondary ed. teachers; cancer patients, survivors, and their families; and college students from all disciplines. He is currently finishing his dissertation, and his scholarly work has been published in Forum for World Literature Studies and Modern Fiction Studies. He enjoys teaching composition and world literature, and encouraging anyone and everyone to make their own comics and zines.
D.A. Gray spends his time as a full-time graduate student at Texas A&M-Central Texas in the spring and fall, and as an MFA candidate at Sewanee School of Letters in the summer. Gray originally hails from Western Kentucky but, after retiring from the U.S. Army, now resides in Central Texas. Gray has published one book of poetry, Overwatch, Grey Sparrow Press, November 2011. His work can also be found in Grey Sparrow Journal, Bellow, Poetry Salzburg, The Good Men Project, O’Dark Thirty, 94 Creations, Kentucky Review and Spark: A Creative Anthology. His work will also be found in upcoming issues of Appalachian Heritage and War, Literature and the Arts.
Elizabeth Heaney, MA is a highly popular workshop leader with more than twenty five years of experience writing fiction and non-fiction, and several awards for her published essays. Her most recent project, The Honor Was Mine, is a narrative non-fiction book about her years working with combat veterans. She has been awarded artist residencies at both the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Hambidge Center. Ms. Heaney was a psychotherapist in private practice for nearly thirty years before she began working on military bases, counseling service members getting ready to deploy into combat or just returning from combat. With graduate degrees in both Clinical Psychology and Transpersonal Psychology from John F. Kennedy University, she currently maintains a private counseling practice in Asheville NC. She’s on the faculty of Lenoir-Rhyne’s graduate counseling program and is credentialed with Courage Beyond, a non-profit organization committed to providing free counseling services to veterans, service members and their spouses.
Kyle Henry is the editor of the Emmy and SXSW Film Festival award winning PBS documentary Where Soldiers Come From as well as fourteen other feature films. As a director, his debut film Room played at the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals. He has led numerous workshops around the country on editing and filmmaking, including many panels at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX. He currently teaches film production at Northwestern University. His father was an eleven year veteran of the US Navy and Marine Corp, ending his career as a Senior Marine Drill Instructor.
Michael Hinkle writes for The Edmond Sun in Oklahoma.
Formally trained in music, with a terminal degree and over twenty years of experience as an educator and classical performer, Tif Holmes is currently most active as a photographic artist and writer. Her visual repertoire ranges from landscapes and portraiture to abstract and conceptual works, revealing life’s wild beauty as well as the undiluted truth of human suffering. Her writing explores the interconnectedness of the natural world and reveals the importance of the wild in her own life and work. In 2011-2012 she created and maintained The Collaborative Photo-Haiku Project which aimed “to encourage exploration and expression through digital photography and modern haiku.” Currently, she leads free expressive photography workshops for “at-risk” populations, and is the founder of “Engage the Light,” a veterans-centric photography group which hosts weekly photo-walks in the Lubbock, Texas, area to promote communication and camaraderie within the local community through the art of photography. Tif completed an eight-year enlistment in the United States Army, achieving the rank of Staff-Sergeant. She is a member of the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers and is purposefully committed to their Ethical Code, their values, and their vision.
Amber Jensen is an instructor at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota, where she launched and leads a Veteran’s Writing Workshop for military affiliated students and community members. She has always loved writing, and has earned a MFA in creative writing from the University of New Orleans, but her husband’s service in the SD Army National Guard, his deployment to Iraq, and the experiences of her family during and since that deployment have taught her the importance of writing the military experience and encouraging others to do the same. Her writing has appeared in print in the Potomac Books anthology Red, White, and True and in North Dakota Quarterly, as well as online at Oh-Dark-Thirty’s The Report, I Am: Twenty-Seven, and The Fertile Source.
Kristin G. Kelly is associate professor of English at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville, GA. Her work has appeared in journals such as Hospital Drive, The Examined Life, J Journal: New Writings on Justice, and War, Literature & the Arts.
Katherine Liontas-Warren, Professor of Art at Cameron University has been a resident of Oklahoma since 1984, where she teaches drawing, watercolor, and printmaking. Katherine has a Master of Fine Art from Texas Tech University and a Bachelor of Science from Southern Connecticut. In December of 2014, Katherine was awarded the Oklahoma Governor’s Art and Education Award in Oklahoma City at the State Capitol. She is also a recipient of the Bhattacharya Research Excellence Award and the Faculty Hall of Fame at Cameron University. Katherine received the title of Artist of the Year from the Paseo Art Association in Oklahoma City and the Artist and Educator of the Year through the Lawton Arts and Humanities Council. Katherine has exhibited her works of art in over 375 National Solo, Invitational and Juried Competitive Exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, and has received numerous purchase and juried awards. Many of her prints, drawings, and paintings are in permanent collections in Museums and Institutions throughout the nation.
A native of Rolla, Missouri, Michael Lund served in Vietnam as an US Army correspondent in 1970-71. He is the author of a number of novels inspired by The Mother Road, including Route 66 to Vietnam: A Draftee’s Story (2004), Growing up on Route 66 (1999), and Route 66 Looking Glass (2014). His short stories have appeared in such journals as War, Literature, and the Arts, Blue Falcon Review, Outside-In Literary and Travel Magazine, Beatdom, and Veterans Writing Project Review. His first story collection appeared in 2012; a second, Eating With Veterans, is due out in 2015. Professor Emeritus of English at Longwood U. in Virginia, he has taught literature and writing for over forty years.
Travis L. Martin is a PhD candidate at the University of Kentucky researching the proliferation of therapeutic writing and arts communities created by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. He founded one of these groups, Military Experience & the Arts (MEA), and during his tenure as President and Editor-In-Chief, MEA received national awards from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and Student Veterans of America, establishing its 501(C)(3) non-profit status in 2013, hosting national symposia in 2012 and 2015, and publishing more than 500 works of fiction, non-fiction, artwork, poetry, and research in eight edited collections.
He also founded the nation’s first academic minor in Veterans Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, establishing interdisciplinary curriculum requirements, designing introductory and advanced coursework, and implementing them to teach non-veterans about military service and veterans how to contextualize their experiences through critical inquiry.
Travis’s research interests include psychoanalytic trauma theory, gender and identity studies, science fiction films, and war literature from the twentieth century. His writing and artwork has appeared or will soon appear in The New York Times, American Imago (John’s Hopkins), The Forum for Modern Language Studies (Oxford), Writing on the Edge (UC-Davis), War, Literature, and the Arts (USAF), and Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine. His most recent project, a memoir that shares his experiences in the Iraq War, growing up in rural Kentucky, military service in Europe, and navigating academia as a combat veteran, is entitled Turley Boys and is in search of a home with a publishing press.
Annie McFarland is currently a doctoral candidate and teaching assistant in the art education department at Florida State University. She received her M.S. in Art Therapy from Florida State University in 2012 where she created a clinical guide for using art therapy modalities with veterans suffering from trauma-related disorders. Continuing her art therapy research in the Florida State doctoral program, Annie is currently developing a research proposal focusing on combining paper making craft and museum exhibition to assess self-efficacy and post-traumatic growth in military veterans. In addition to her full-time doctoral program, Annie also works at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital as a recreation therapist in the behavioral health department. Her father is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, having served 6 years in the Navy during Vietnam and 26 years in the Army Reserve.
The son of an Air Force veteran, Benjamin Myers is the 2015-2016 Poet Laureate of the State of Oklahoma and the author of two books of poetry: Lapse Americana (New York Quarterly Books, 2013) and Elegy for Trains (Village Books Press, 2010). His poems may be read in The Yale Review, The New York Quarterly, 32 Poems, Poetry Northwest, Nimrod, Redivider, The Christian Century and other journals, as well as on the Verse Daily website. He frequently reviews books of poetry and books about contemporary poetry for such publications as World Literature Today and Books and Culture. He has been honored with an Oklahoma Book Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book and with a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Myers teaches poetry writing and literature at Oklahoma Baptist University, where he is the Crouch-Mathis Associate Professor of Literature.
Sheila Niebauer is from Lawton (Ft. Sill), Oklahoma. She has exhibited her art work at the Duncan Simmons Center and at the Leslie Powel Gallery in Lawton. She enjoys watercolor, but also likes to experiment with other mediums. She is currently enrolled at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma working on her BFA in Painting. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Cameron University 1990 and has taught kindergarten for fifteen years in Texas, and second grade for two years in Thailand. Thailand is the inspiration for most of her art work. She is up for adventure whether it is riding elephants through the jungle or petting the tigers at Tiger Kingdom or riding rapids down the river. She also likes to learn new things such as cooking Thai food, weaving bowls, or batik painting in Bali.
Multi model artist, and military veteran, (USMC, Army) Suzanne Rancourt, is an Expressive Arts Therapist and Amherst Writers and Artists affiliate. Her book of poetry, “Billboard in the Clouds” was the winner of the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas First Book Award. Her poetry and prose have been published by Four Winds Literary Magazine, Chiron Review, Ginosko Literary Journal, Callaloo, Cimarron Review, Journal of Military Experience vol 2 and 3, Blue Streak: A Journal of Military Poetry, and O-Dark-Thirty – Rear Support. Ms. Rancourt’s work has been included in several Anthologies and creative writing text books with work forthcoming in “In the Trenches Anthology” and Gary Bloomfield’s Anthology featuring the work of women veterans. Ms. Rancourt has been a featured presenter at Creative Arts conferences, and facilitates multi-model workshops regularly. She has had the honor of participating as a Military Experience and the Arts poetry editor. For more information about Ms. Rancourt’s methods, philosophies and advocacy for veterans and the arts please view her website www.expressive-arts.com.
Rob Roensch is an Assistant Professor of English at Oklahoma City University. His first book of fiction, The Wildflowers of Baltimore, was published in the US and UK by Salt Publishing in 2012.
Amber Sharples (Executive Director) graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Art History. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Museum Collections Management and Care from The George Washington University. Sharples joined the Oklahoma Arts Council staff in 2006 as Visual Arts Director after working as Public Affairs and Communications Coordinator at the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Culture in Mexico City. In 2011, she was named Assistant Director. As Executive Director, Sharples works with the Oklahoma Arts Council board and staff to implement agency goals and objectives and responds to the needs of the state’s arts community through financial support, services and advocacy. She serves on various boards of agencies, commissions and nonprofits, including: Friends of the Mansion; Mid-America Arts Alliance; Native American Cultural and Educational Authority; and the Governor’s Innovation Index Task Force.
Joseph Stanfill served 14 years in the active army as a combat engineer, and is a veteran of OIF, OEF, & Kosovo. Joseph is a PTSD survivor, and has dedicated himself to helping fellow veterans work their way through the myriad mental health issues surrounding combat, sexual assault, and transitioning. His passion is helping veterans to rediscover themselves following trauma, and recognizing the growth and strength obtained through their journey. Joseph’s research interests include psychotherapy, substance abuse, and the military family. He is currently based out of Southern Illinois and is a graduate student at the University of Southern California where he is pursuing a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Mental Health and Military Social Work. Joseph is married and blessed with two children. His hobbies include hunting, sports, and napping.