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About Veterans Theater
Veterans Theater (http://peaceaware.com) is education & outreach by the veterans and homeless. We use original theater skits to showcase the 'Living Story Web' of their own lived experience here and now of oppression in sub-minimum wage economies, & stereotypes by dominant culture. Veteran Theater includes our writing of books (e.g. Tent City Solutions), helping other veterans and homeless restory their experiences. Consulting with other shelters (& tent cities) to establish democratic dialogue, and respect for the living stories of veterans and homeless.
We continue to do fund raising with our plays, and with CrowdSource at GoFundMe.com/mol1wc to cover costs of each next play, and setting up or 501 (c) 3 called "Antenarrative Storytelling Foundation." Veterans Theater is one of its four main programs. Thank you for your continuing support.
The Need: 22 veterans every day commit suicide in the US. Only 1 in 22 are receiving care.
The VETERANS THEATER PROJECT:
Our project is creating economic sustainability for Las Cruces homeless veterans in transitional living at Camp Hope and Oak St. start their own business. We are doing this by fund raising events and by crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is a way social entrepreneurs process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by seeking contributions from a large group of people. Here is a YouTube of a rehearsal of Act IV: ‘Why VA if Full of Madness'
We are talking with homeless veterans and the homeless community of New Mexico to come up with the stories that are the basis for the theater plays. Veterans and homeless act out their own stories in the plays, and turn their stories into theater performances for paying audiences. The plays lace serious topics with humor, and end with problems solving discussions with the audience.
- Fact: HUD estimates 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night” (But, this does not count the hidden homeless veterans couch surfing, ling out of cars, etc.); Fact: 23% are military veterans are homeless, and that means closer to 805,000 rather than the HUD estimate.
- Fact: Another 1. 5 million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans).
This is a 3 minute video about work we are doing with our veterans. Every person in America is 3 paychecks away from becoming homeless! We veterans grow up with every kind of institution from School, Family, University, the Military, and the Medical establishment storying and restorying us. The institutions story our Selves on the Mirror-stage in ways that is preventing care that would make fewer veterans a statistic.
√ How Veterans' Theater got started
It all started in Las Cruces on a cold November morning in 2011, when some Army veterans, one named Sykes, put up tents on a vacant lot in Las Cruces, next door to Mesilla Valley Community of Hope. The city was going to do like Albuquerque, and decamp the veterans. However, as code enforcement officers cited violation after violation, the local New Mexico State University students and faculty pitched in to resolve each and everyone. The City a couple years later declared the site a city campground. Why does it work? Unlike Albuquerque, who keeps putting bowling ball sized rocks onto each new campsite, Las Cruces community uses enterpreneurship and old-fashioned problem solving operations.
- BIG Story Conference (http://bigstoryconference.com) connects academic scholars with something to say about 'antenarrative' research, theory, and method to corporate applications of 'antenarrative'. This includes the antenarratives below the surface of narratives about homeless and veterans. Antenarratives get at a heart-of-care of a society for its veterans and homeless. Big Story Conference, and other activities described next, raises money to support the next three programs.
- Veterans and Theater (http://peaceaware.com) is education and outreach by the veterans and/or homeless. We are using theater skits to showcase the 'Living Story Web' of veterans and/or homeless own lived experience here and now of oppression in sub-minimum wage economies, in stereotypes by dominant culture. Veteran Theater includes our writing of books (e.g. Tent City Solutions), helping other veterans and homeless to write books focused on restorying their experiences. It includes going to work with other shelters (& tent cities) to establish democratic dialogue, and respect for the living stories of veterans and/or homeless.
- Legacy Ranch is a concept created by board member, Wanda Whittlesey-Jerome. It is initially one, and in the long-term several ranches dedicated to services and ongoing research that help veterans (& their family members) make the transition after deployment to sustainable- economics, living, health, and community participation. One of the activities is equine-assisted care for veterans (and family members) using groundwork. Veterans and family members stay in cabins for weekend, week-long, or month-long decompression activities. Decompression means being in nature, being with animals, and being with family and friends to decompress after combat or post-combat military experiences. The purpose is to help veterans and family members who experience the stress of deployment to reintegrate. Another activity is 'embodied restory process' that is part of 'material storytelling'. Material storytelling uses sandtray events, and can include equine-arena work, where material objects are places in a space, by facilitators and/or by veterans (& family members) to depict their past, present, and future. Other activities include working with nature, with ranch animals, and having counselors available for confidential help with veteran and family issues.
- Eagle Ranch (http://peaceaware.com/eagle) stands for Equine-Assisted-Growth-Learning-Events (EAGLE). It is initially one, and in the long-term several ranches dedicate to services and ongoing research that helps homeless make their transition to sustainable socioeconomic living and community participation. Activities include 'embodied restorying process' of 'Material storytelling' using sandtrays, and/or arena work. Homelessness does not end when a homeless person gets a tent, a cabin, an apartment, a trailer, or a home. Homelessness ends when the person enters a sustainable economic, health, living, and societal relationship. Such a Homeless Ranch would be managed and directed by Veterans Theater.
Veterans Theater is one of 4 Antenarrative Storytelling Foundation Programs:
Antenarrative is defined here as before-narrative, beneath both story and narrative, between them, bets on the future, and becoming of a heart-of-care for the sustainability of socioeconomic communities, locally and globally, this case the veterans and homeless of the world.
"Awareness...men and women who serve in our military to keep our freedom....our greatest gift....need to be taken care of with love and respect regardless of their mental and physical condition. ... play entitled "Dead While Waiting for my VA Appointment" depicts the way veterans are treated within the VA system. Their individual situations get lost in the system's bureaucracy with untimely appointments, improper diagnosis and medications. The presentation was a true depiction of the VA care system and was an eye opener to most people who don't realize veterans are not treated with the respect they deserve, and who sometimes have to go outside this system for better medical care. Soldiers are greatly respected but veterans lack the same. Making people aware can help influence elected officials to aid in making changes to the VA system to provide better service to veterans" --- Bob and Mary Sherman, Los Cruces April 30, 2015
"This project is a very innovative and effective way of enhancing the lives of the participating veterans in the community, but at the same time, it raises public awareness of the issues veterans face as they try to (re)adjust to their old-new home-lives. The play is bound to be entertaining, heartfelt, and cathartic all at the same time" -- Gabriella Lewis, NMSU April 30, 2015
"The vignette of the play “Dead While Waiting for My VA Appointment” was a powerful recounting of the lived experiences of its performers – women and men who served honorably and with distinction in the U.S. armed forces. The play shines light on the challenges they and countless other veterans have faced while trying to obtain medical care and services from the Veterans Administration, particularly at VA facilities. Especially notable is the play’s depiction of the uneven care offered to different classes of vets (for example homeless vets vs. middle-class ones, or those with physical vs. mental health issues), as well as the potential over-reliance on prescription medication as a primary means of treatment. Given the 2014 resignation of VA secretary Gen. Eric Shinseki amidst a wave of VA hospital scandals and cover-ups – including the ordering of employees to falsify data concerning wait times and delayed care related deaths – this play brings much-needed attention to the quality of care and services we provide our combat veterans with AFTER their return home from battle. Having spent 9 years in the U.S. Army uniform and as an Iraq War combat veteran myself, I appreciate this story being told" --Dr. Sean Roger New Mexico State University, April 30, 2015
I recommend the play put on by Camp Hope to anyone who has a chance to see it. There is a refreshing honesty about it and it also makes clear that the homeless are not necessarily what people think. Just like people who are not homeless, there is much variance in homeless people too. -- Dr. David Trafimow, New Mexico State University Aug 5 2015
"This compelling presentation was educational, entertaining, and at times shocking as it featured veterans enacting their own stories and bringing to light the crucial need for assistance for our veterans. This type of theatre has a positive impact both for participants and the community and deserves our full support" -- Wil Kilroy College of Arts and Sciences Academic Department Head/Professor: Theatre Arts
See Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, prepared by HUD, estimates there were 62,619 homeless Veterans on a single night in January in the United States. (Cortes, Alvaro, Meghan Henry, RJ De La Cruz, and Scott Brown. “2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.” Housing and Urban Development: Homelessness Data Exchange) - See more at: http://fanofthefeather.info