Fatigues glued to my skin, rain of a thousand years, rhythms and waves. I am sitting on my helmet…
— excerpt from Rain by Richard G., Vietnam veteran and Mighty Pen student





Veterans and their supporters have stories to tell. They carry important experiences and emotions with them during, and often long after, military service. Their stories are always laden with personal import and, frequently, with vital historical perspectives. The Mighty Pen Project provides a variety of programs to memorialize these lives and recollections of service, in order to share their important lessons with our community and keep them ever-present in our culture.

The Mighty Pen Project was founded in 2014 by bestselling historical fiction writer, professor, playwright, and philanthropist David L. Robbins. In partnership with the Virginia War Memorial, the Mighty Pen Project provides writing instruction and continuing writing support to those who have experienced our nation’s military events either through service or as a supporter of the military. A major strength of our writing program is our class composition, allowing us – and the participants – to see lives of service and world events through a diversity of lenses, encompassing veterans, spouses, family members, and friends spanning every military uniform through eras of conflict and times of peace. The many written historical narratives and literature that emerge from our classes are the focus and content of our online Anthology & Archive, selections from which are printed annually in our journal.   

In The Mighty Pen Project’s free, semester-length collegiate-level writing classes, veterans and their supporters are given the academic tools, rigor, and continuing support they need to most effectively tell the stories of their choosing. Classes are taught by university writing professors and held year ‘round. 

Check out our article in January 2017 issues of Cooperative Living Magazine



David L. Robbins is the son of World War II veterans. Above and beyond his work as a New York Times bestselling author, David energetically believes in giving back to the community and considers his charitable efforts to be his most important work. In 2002, David founded the James River Writers, a non-profit group in Richmond that has grown to become the preeminent writers’ organization in the middle Atlantic. In 2008, he co-founded The Podium Foundation, a non-profit organization which brings writing and critical reasoning skills to Richmond’s young writers and artists. David founded the Mighty Pen Project in 2015. David also teaches advanced creative writing at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Honors College. David’s thirteenth novel, a story about survival, rescue, and love that takes place during the Vietnam War, was published in November 2016. David is an accomplished playwright, with his most recent play, The End of War, opening at the Virginia Reparatory Theater in March 2017.

David Robbins continues to shine in Richmond and beyond. Here are just a few of his recent accomplishments:

  • Richmond Times Dispatch Honoree, Person of the Year
  • Virginia Commission for the Arts, On of the 2 Most Inspirational Literary Artists in Virginia of the Last 50 Years
  • Production of his fourth stage play, The King of Crimes, about the treason trial of Aaron Burr


Dr. Paul J. Acter is the associate professor and Chair in the Department of Rhetoric and Communication Studies at the University of Richmond. He earned a Ph.D. in Speech Communication from the University of Georgia in 2001 with an emphasis on rhetorical theory and criticism, media criticism, and political culture. He then began work as a postdoctoral associate with Drs. Celeste Condit and Roxanne Parrott, conducting research and managing teams working on CDC and NIH grants about public understandings of race and genetics. His work has appeared in scholarly journals including the Quarterly Journal of Speech, the Southern Communication Journal, and Critical Studies in Media Communication. He has also written in popular media such as CNN.com and Huffington Post. At Richmond, Paul teaches courses such as public speaking, war rhetoric, and television criticism. His current teaching and research projects examine the rhetorical norms of war and the ongoing struggle for racial justice.


Robert Hodierne has been a journalist for 45 years, working as a writer, editor and photographer for newspapers, wire services, magazines, radio, television and the Internet. He began his career as a freelance photographer in Vietnam.  In all he spent more than two years in Vietnam. He continued his interest in the military, making two reporting trips to Iraq. His most recent work was a feature-length documentary, “Afghanistan: The Surge,” that aired on PBS stations around the country. Among other awards, he was a member of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize. For three years he quit working and sailed a 32-foot boat through the South Pacific and on to Japan. He currently is chairman of the journalism department at the University of Richmond. Robert will be teaching the January 2017 class.


Bert Ashe is the author of Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles (Agate), a non-fictional finalist for the Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Twisted is a personal exploration of identity through America's perceptions of hair. Kirkus Reviews calls Twisted “engaging,” “very funny,” and “playfully serious (or seriously playful).” An associate professor of English and American Studies at the University of Richmond, Ashe’s scholarly and teaching interests also include jazz, basketball, “post-blackness.” A Los Angeles native and father of two, he lives with his wife in Chesterfield County. Bert will be teaching the September 2017 class.

 Rachel Landsee, Executive Director with David Robbins, Founder and Program Director

Rachel Landsee, Executive Director with David Robbins, Founder and Program Director

MPP brought me into friendship with some whom I would have encountered in no other way. Extending my circle of friends strengthened the rock on which I stand.
— Walt S.

Engaging in the 1st MP writing project was joining an adventure down a big river, forded by Vonnegut and plumbed by Twain and we created a special collection of recipes, a plethora of ingredients, plain and exotic, the perfect meal for a dinner with Julia Child and Dennis Hopper. Inquiring minds were well sustained.
— Ellen A.