This Veterans Day is November 11, 2015

A very Happy Veterans Day to our veterans. Thank you for all you have done for our freedoms. We frequently hear about all the challenges Veterans Affairs face in assisting veterans with their needs. But today I want to call attention to an interesting program for veterans that has recently received national media attention.

Shakespeare for Veterans?

Yes, Shakespeare for veterans. Recently, ABC News reported on a Milwaukee program for veterans called “Feast of Crispian,” a reference to a Henry V pre-battle speech. In this acting program, veterans work with area actors in scenes of heavy conflict from Shakespearean plays. The aim of this free program is to help former service members work on addiction and reintegration issues, mental health problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The project director of the program states that Shakespearean plays work well because the language of Shakespeare “holds big emotion.” Nancy Smith-Watson says the language “elicits it, but it also holds it, the metaphor just enables a lot of emotion to be put on them.” The acting, she says, helps veterans access bottled up emotions by using Shakespeare’s words, which breaks down walls and builds confidence. Participants are encouraged to be as angry or sad as they want. One participant, a 25-year-old Army veteran credits the program for allowing him to open up and be himself. He has also remained sober and free of drugs and alcohol for six months.

The program started in 2013, and to date has had 300 veterans participate.