On this episode of Borne the Battle, Air Force Veteran Blake Stilwell shares his story of starting his career as a combat photographer and eventually becoming a professional writer for Military.com.
Stilwell had only spent a year in the Air Force when he became the youngest and for a time lowest-ranking member of the 1st Combat Camera Squadron. Despite early challenges, he was grateful for the opportunity to learn from his friends and mentors. He said they taught him how to take his work seriously while also having fun. He still considers it one of his best jobs.
After nearly six years in the Air Force, Stilwell left to enroll at Syracuse University, using his GI Bill to graduate from the Television, Radio, and Film program. He used the skills he had learned in the Air Force and at Syracuse in various enterprises, including covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics and working at The White House Communications Agency.
Stilwell eventually returned to Syracuse to study International and Public Relations, and spent some time at the Near East Foundation. In 2015, he was recruited by a friend to become a writer at We Are the Mighty, where he wrote thousands of articles and hosted a podcast with friends. Later in 2019 he became a professional staff writer for Military.com, where he continues to write today alongside other freelance work.
In this episode, Stilwell discusses…
- What he learned from his experiences in the military.
- His post-military education at Syracuse University.
- His advice for aspiring writers and people transitioning out of the military.
- How he got on the bad side of the president of the Philippines.
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week:
- Army Veteran Ambrose Bierce
- VA offers debt relief to Veterans through year’s end
- VA and MAZON partner to support Veteran food security
Rob Laucius is a podcast intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. He is an undergraduate student at Hillsdale College studying History.