La Jolla Workshop Nurtures Veteran Playwrights

UC San Diego MFA candidates work with veterans in the playwriting workshop.

Reporting recently for Southern California Public Radio, Hannah Harris Green visited a theater workshop at the famed La Jolla Playhouse outside San Diego, where veterans come together to write stage projects. Iraq War veteran and playwright Maurice DeCaul began the workshop and others around the country with a grant from the Theater Communications Group. When he returned from service, DeCaul had planned to use his GI Bill benefits to study law. But after getting involved in another veterans writing workshop, he decided to pursue a Creative Writing degree instead. Today, DeCaul splits his time between NYU and Brown University, where he is a writer-in-residence.

Writing has proved cathartic for DeCaul, who told Ms. Green, “It was the first time I was writing about the war. And it was the first time that I had talked about it or wrote about it since I had come back — and I had come back six years prior.”

Keeping combat experiences bottled up can be very detrimental to veterans. Some, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, can lapse into depression and proceed from depression into substance abuse and self-harm. Talk therapy has been proved to be very beneficial in relieving symptoms of PTSD, and many writers find a similar benefit in written expression.

Member Armando de la Torre of the La Jolla workshop expressed his experience: “I use the [visual] art to work through my traumas that I experienced during the military. Through art I got some tools to be able to work in society. Through that, I felt like I worked through my own issues of depression or lack of connection to how society works.”

At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, we are very concerned about the needs of veterans. We fight continuously to help vets and their families get the disability benefits they are entitled to. But while government benefits and medical treatment address numerous vital issues, they don’t address the very human need to belong, to create, and to see oneself as an individual capable of unique contributions to the world around us. When it comes to addressing those needs, government is rarely a proper or efficient vehicle.  Fortunately, American society is larger than government, and, as some veterans in southern California have learned, society definitely has a place for them.

If you or a veteran you love needs assistance appealing your Veterans Disability Benefits Claim, contact Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban online or give us a call 866-866-VETS.

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