My First A Veteran’s Story (AVS): A Learning Process

Short Summary: My Veteran of the Day became an AVS when the VOD publisher asked to turn it into one. The Veteran had a long and distinguished career in the Air Force, so turning it into a shortened yet expanded AVS was a process. Yet it prepared me for writing with other Special Projects and helped me grow confident in my writing style.

In November 2019, while I was working as a Writing Intern, I became the writer for a public submission for a Veteran of the Day (VOD). Air Force Veteran Drury Wood served during World War II and the Korean War as a pilot and was crucial in test flying planes for the military and the public during his career. Even after he retired from the military, he was active in Veterans groups and local organizations in his area. The write-up I handed in was interesting, but well over the 500-word count. So, when the VOD publisher asked us to turn the card into an AVS, I decided to remain onboard as the writer.

Having never written an AVS before, I began to look at published cards on the blog and ones in progress on the Trello board. That gave me a rough idea of what I needed to do, so I wrote the new draft. However, when I went to move the card to the Ready for Editor pile, I noticed that there were extra requirements that the new draft didn’t fit. AVSs needed their summaries to have 150 characters and write-ups to be under 2,200 characters. Upon learning this, I had to go back and rewrite the draft to fit the new requirements. Unfortunately, cutting a write-up is much harder than writing. With an AVS, a writer must decide what is important in the Veteran’s story. I cut the original portion about Wood’s retired life and tried to make transitions smoother to allow for changes. The editors were also helpful, offering suggestions about what to cut and adapting when I mentioned the new requirements.It took eight drafts, but eventually we reached a final and it was published in June.

I would highly suggest writing interns who have completed the 12 VODs needed to qualify for Special Projects to undertake the AVS training. With a VOD, you’re describing a basic structure of a Veteran’s service and can only make it somewhat personal. But an AVS allows you to use the Veteran’s own words and highlight special experiences. It also requires a bit more creativity because it has a less formatted structure. After writing my first AVS, I felt confident enough to go on to do others. I have written 12 AVS over the course of my internship, but my favorite has to be when I wrote about an Army Veteran and that Veteran commented “Thank you for the recognition. The article is true and correct.” Knowing you did your work well is rewarding, but being thanked by the subject is truly a pleasure.

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