David P. Ervin is a former Sergeant in the US Army infantry and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. He graduated from West Virginia University with a BA in history in 2009. After working with disabled veterans for the WV Department of Veterans Assistance, David self-published a memoir about his time in the war, Leaving the Wire: An Infantryman’s Iraq. He has written and edited for Blue Nostalgia: A Journal of Post-Traumatic Growth and As You Were: The Military Review.

MEA Staff

Daniel Buckman served as a rifleman in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne throughout the 1980s. Upon discharge, he took a BA and MA in American Literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has worked as an English instructor at City College, crime journalist at USDC-Chicago, market researcher, and freelance writer. He has published four novels: Water in the Darkness (Akashic), The Names of Rivers (Akashic/Picador USA), Morning Dark (Saint Martin’s Press/Picador USA), and Because the Rain (Saint Martin’s Press/Picador USA). He currently lives and works in Chicago.STBioSean F. Tyler is a prior service US Army Sergeant in the Infantry as well as a Captain (Med. Ret.) in the Medical Service Corps, with a BS in Exercise Science from the University of Tampa. Sean served during one combat deployment with the 1st Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division from October 2006-December 2007. Following medical retirement 2013 Sean had a short stint in the sales industry, but felt his talents and passion could be used elsewhere. In this redirection Sean chose to focus his attention on his fellow veterans working for and volunteering with multiple veteran focused non-profit organizations including Military Experience and the Arts. In his free time Sean writes poetry and short fiction, performs slam poetry, and is learning to play the guitar.

MEA Staff

Brian Mockenhaupt has written extensively about the wars and veterans’ issues for The Atlantic, Esquire, Reader’s Digest and Outside magazines, which has included several reporting trips to Afghanistan and Iraq. He served in the Army from 2002 to 2005 and did two Iraq tours as an infantryman with the 10th Mountain Division. Prior to the Army, he worked as a newspaper reporter in Providence, Rhode Island, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and holds an M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College.

Tif Holmes

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.

SkiStaffPhotoTravis L. Switalski Sr. is a former Sergeant First Class in the US Army infantry and is an Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran with multiple combat tours. He currently works as a Disabled Veterans Case Manager for the Washington State Employment Security Department, helping disabled veterans find meaningful and long lasting employment. Travis is currently working on a series of short fiction stories about his experiences in combat, and currently resides in Chewelah, Washington where he continues to help veterans.

MEA Staff

Joseph Miller served as a platoon leader, executive officer, and Iraqi Army Advisor before leaving active duty to become an ROTC instructor. In 2011, he was named Officer Instructor of the Year. Joseph is a regular contributor to PTSD: A Soldier’s Perspective and a member of Team Red, White, and Blue. He recently defended his Master’s Thesis and is a PhD student at the University of Maine. His dissertation will explore institutions in North America that absorbed veterans following the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars (The US Custom Service, British Veterans’ Battalions, and utopic French veterans’ colonies in Texas).

MEA Staff

Amira Pierce was born in Beirut, Lebanon and grew up as a foreign service brat between Northern Virginia and her father’s postings in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. She received her MFA in fiction from Virginia Commonwealth University, and currently she teaches in the Expository Writing Program at NYU-Poly in Brooklyn and is a fiction editor for Her short fiction has received various honors and appeared in publications including Cream City Review, Asian American Literary Review, Makeout Creek, and She is at work on a novel.

JMEA Staffason Poudrier is an Iraqi Freedom veteran and Purple Heart recipient. He is a writer, lecturer, workshop leader, instructor, and is the director of events for Military Experience & the Arts and recently directed the second national Military Experience & the Arts (MEA2) symposium at Cameron University in Lawton. He is currently an instructor with the Office of Teaching and Learning at Cameron University and is the faculty adviser for Student Veterans of America and Circle K International. He is also an award winning author and his poems have recently appeared in World Literature Today and Blue Streak. Jason Poudrier has authored two poetry collections, Red Fields (Mongrel Empire Press, 2012) and the chapbook, In the Rubble at Our Feet (Rose Rock Press, 2011). He is currently working on his first novel, Greatest of all Time as an MFA student at Oklahoma City University.

MEA Staff

Born and raised in West Central Maine, Suzanne S. Rancourt’s book, Billboard in the Clouds (Curbstone Press) was the 2001 recipient of the Native Writers First Book Award. An Abensaki Artist, Suzanne holds an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College, an MS in Educational Psychology from SUNY, and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from the European Graduate School in Expressive Arts: Therapy, Education, and Consulting. Suzanne is a certified facilitator and affiliate of Amherst Writers & Artists Method and has taught writing in maximum security prisons, youth organizations, rehabilitation programs for adult survivors of traumatic brain injury, and more. Her devotion to Blue Streak stems from her love of poetry and service in both the Marine Corps and the US Army.

Olivia Kate Cerrone is a writer and educator. She recently led a creative writing workshop for African refugees through the Stella Maris Onlus organization in Siracusa, Sicily. She currently serves as a writing mentor for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. Her fiction has appeared in various journals, including War, Literature & the Arts, New South, the Berkeley Fiction Review,The Portland Review and VIA: Voices in Italian Americana. She earned an MFA in creative writing from New York University. Cerrone is the recipient of a “Distinguished Fellowship” from the National Endowment for the Arts and has won residency grants and fellowships from the Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop, the VCCA, the Hambidge Center, the Vermont Studio Center, the Ragdale Foundation, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Art Farm, the Gloucester Writers Center and the Martha’s Vineyard Writers Residency. She recently completed work on The Hunger Saint, a literary novel set in Sicily.

Stanfill EditedJoseph 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.J He is currently a psychotherapist working in the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Joseph is married and blessed with two children. His hobbies include hunting, sports, and napping.

Chrisinger EditedDavid 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.

Brooks EditedRobin Brooks is a former public affairs officer and veteran of the United States Navy, having retired from the Navy Reserve program in 2013. For the past several years, Robin has operated a boutique public relations consulting firm, Robin Brooks Influential, Inc., where she invests time advocating for, supporting and promoting social causes that are near-and-dear to her heart! Robin has a professional background in public relations, including magazine editorial and non-profit community relations campaign management; as well as healthcare/pharmaceutical sales and consulting experience. As a way to honor fellow veterans, particularly veteran-artists, and because of a long personal history of participation and dedication to the arts, including dance, music, creative writing and painting, beginning as a young child; Robin joyfully lends her expertise to Military Experience & the Arts, serving as our Oklahoma MEA 2 Symposium public affairs director/consultant.