Veterans Day 2014


November 11th, 2014 Syracuse Veterans Writing Group
November 11th, 2014
Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group

On November 11th, 2014 (Veterans Day),

Veterans & family from the Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group read their creative work on moral injury at Art Rage Gallery to the public. Our outreach to the public was a complementary effort to the celebrations & ceremonies typically observed in the mornings and afternoons on Veterans Day.


Don Western read his short piece, Moral Failure. Full text

Some of us stood around Radley while Doc dressed his wounds. He couldn’t walk, but it did not look like he would die, and a haze of morphine was taking him to a place we could not go. We began calling in the medivac.

Donald Western enlisted in the Marine Corps in April 1969.   He served a year in Vietnam as an infantry rifleman and in the battalion G-3 section.  He was honorably discharged in October of 1970 with the rank of corporal.  He graduated from Syracuse University in 1972 and returned to receive a Masters Degree in Regional Planning in 1976.  He has worked for most of his professional career in economic development, including serving as Director of Economic Development for Onondaga County for 16 years.   He currently works for Syracuse University.  Don has been married to Marybeth for 34 years and they live in Fayetteville, New York.  They have two daughters and two grandchildren.  His interests include biking, boating, travel, reading, the cultural structures of veterans and society, and the nature of social and scientific change.

Pete McShane read a chapter from his forthcoming memoir. Full textmcshane

We spent an hour touching names, saying a prayer for a high school friend, a neighbor, and a few Special Forces buddies. The last one was Danny Keyes, a teammate killed in a firefight a month after I was medevaced. I told the boys that he had been shot in the head with a .50 caliber machine gun. We were praying for Danny, when Brendan, my inquisitive seven-year- old, looked up at me.

“Daddy, did you kill anybody in Vietnam?”



Peter (Pete) McShane served as a U.S. Army Special Forces medic during the Vietnam conflict, 1967-1968. A graduate of Syracuse University with an M.B.A, he had a career in banking and finance, much of it as a consultant to small businesses, saving them from their creditors and themselves. He wanted to learn how to tell their stores, and his own. Since 2006, he has taken craft classes and workshops in fiction and creative non-fiction at the Syracuse YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center. Now he writes. Pete has completed a collection of short stories, a novella, a number of personal essays, and recently finished a memoir. His work has been published in Syracuse University’s Intertext Magazine, Ginger Piglet, New York Times Warrior Voices, O-Dark-Thirty, Fear of Monkeys, Shooter, Vol.1 Brooklyn, and can be found on the Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group website. His other interests include family, reading, music, woodworking, and metalworking.

willseyRalph Willsey read his poems Morality (excerpted below) and Honors:

The interrogator pulled a confiscated .45

From the holster on his vest.

He put the barrel to this EPW’s head.

This kid was maybe 19, no older than I was.

We all froze in place when he cocked the hammer.



Ralph Willsey enlisted in the US Army in the infantry on 9/14/2004, Left 9/21/2010 as a Specialist/E-4, Operation Iraqi Freedom during years 2006-2007. He also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn 2009-2010. Ralph is currently a student at Onondaga Community College studying criminal justice. His interests are reading, backpacking, and table-top gaming.


Art Rage Gallery - Flyer for the reading
Art Rage Gallery – Flyer for the reading