In any given year, we have a lot of highlights. Our award nominee panels. The Austin Film Fest. Our day-long craft workshops. Margaritas at Mercado on Friday nights. You know, the stuff that really satisfies us professionally.
But there's one event each year that digs deep into our hearts and doesn't let go: The Veterans Writing Retreat. That's when 50 vets and about 25 to 30 mentors - drawn from the ranks of some of the most awesome film and television writers around - join us for a whole weekend of writing, learning, eating and chilling out. The vets and mentors do most of the writing. The staff does most of the chilling out. Hey, we just planned a weekend-long workshop! We earned it.
Seriously, though: Vets have a tough time these days. The health care system designed to address their needs is in dire straits. Vets are committing suicide at such an increased rate, the epidemic has its own Wikipedia page. And a substantial number of homeless people are vets.
We at the WGF can't do much about those issues, other than write our congresspersons and support organizations that exist to help vets. But there is one thing we're uniquely positioned to do: Give vets the tools to tell their stories.
We believe that one way to address the problems vets face today is to get those problems into the public eye - and one way to do that is to bring together veterans with the writers who author the culture we all consume. The benefits are twofold: Vets come a bit closer to being able to tell their stories to a broader audience, and our mentors learn more about the challenges and triumphs vets face every day.
If you're a vet, we encourage you to apply. We can't guarantee that it'll be your path to fame and fortune as a writer; actually, the only thing we can guarantee is that you'll have the opportunity to get feedback on your own work from writers who work in the industry every day. And you're a heck of a lot more likely to Make It In Hollywood if you've got the ability to tell a great story.
We wish we could accept every vet who applied. But the fact is, we've only got the resources to work with about 50 vets. There's no secret to mastering the application - just answer the questions from the heart, and let us know why you want to tell your story. And anyone who isn't accepted this year is welcome to apply again next year.