Many have seen the physical wounds inflicted by battle but only few have witnessed injuries buried deep within the warrior.
A special play, “Theater of War” debuted for service members and families at the Camp Pendleton base theater, Feb. 6.
As the actors took their seats on stage, director Brain Doerries explained to the audience that the play would be verbally performed without staging and sets.
The play brings to life ancient Greek dramas written by Sophocles. The actors expressed themselves as soldiers struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other war-related mental issues.
At the completion of the readings, a panel discussion took place, that was led by a Naval chaplain, a military mental health professional and a family member who experienced military hardship. The open discussion allowed audience members to express their concerns and expanded their understanding of PTSD, combat stress and other mental disorders that warriors often experience.
The main goal of the play is to create awareness of combat related mental injuries and for service members to understand it is better to seek help than ignore the symptoms.
“The message is; you’re not alone, you’re not alone in this room, you’re not alone in this country and you’re not alone across time,” said Doerries, creator of the program. “The play shows service members that they are not the only ones who have gone through these struggles.”
“Hopefully this will break barriers,” said Adam Driver, actor and former Marine. “Its hard for some to open up, but maybe watching it through a play, where it is in front of them, will help.”
Driver recalls how he was not able to connect with some of his friends who came back from deployment. He found that his friends who deployed together developed a kinship and were able to relate and converse better because they shared the same experiences, he explained.
“(Service members) are parents, spouses, daughters and sons,” said Diana Crebier, mother of a service member. “Although they have family, troops retuning from deployments often turn to their buddies, because they have gone through the same situation.”
But that doesn’t mean family isn’t important during this time.
“The best thing family can do is to make sure (the service member) knows you are there for them,” said Crebier, a panelist during the open discussion. “They will come to you when they are ready.”
Actors and participants in the play and open discussion made it well known that the information being provided to the audience was valuable.
It is important to understand that those who have gone through deployments possibly will not be the same person coming back, said Crebier.
“We felt (the play) was important,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Grosz, inspector-instructor, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division. “A lot of stress is placed on families and service members during deployments. We thought this could provide them with information and tools to help during difficult times,” he said.
“Theater of War” is scheduled to visit 100 bases in the United States this year and is sponsored by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.
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