I attended a play today that was immediately followed up by a talk back where audience members asked the actors questions, but they stayed in character, answering as the person portrayed, not the actor. They all did a great job and made it real.
Combat Conversations: Families Affected by War was the name of the production put on by One Fight Foundation and Impact Theatre NYC. It was powerful and eye opening. It was also based on true stories.
The play opened with a unit of soldiers, male and female, who were clearing a building when one of their unit was killed by an explosion, and carried out by two of the soldiers, one male and one female.
We then followed those two home to reunite with their families, the main gist of the play. It did not go as expected for the characters. Joy very quickly disintegrated and turned to disappointment and conflict through no fault of the servicemembers. I didn’t feel like it was about judging either side, though. It showed the difficulty of returning home to changed situations and being expected to instantly reintegrate to work and family, surrounded by those who have no way to know what they’ve been through. All with little or no support from anywhere.
It also acknowledged that the family of those serving are also dealing with their loved one’s absence.
Not that it’s always so tumultuous with family dynamics, but it often is, and even when it goes better, it’s still not easy. The point is to get more support for our servicemembers returning from combat. It’s not a political issue. It’s a human issue. One that gets far too little attention from either major party, the media, and all of us.
Toward the end of the presentation, one of the members of the play’s presenters asked veterans/servicemembers to stand. I had 4 veterans within a couple seats on either side of me. The same man who asked them to stand made a really good point, that we don’t even know our neighbors names most of the time. There’s no sense of community. How do we offer help when we aren’t even aware who has served?
The media shields us from graphic photos/footage in America. In my work, I see a lot of foreign newspapers. They don’t hold back. I see photos of terror attack aftermaths with dead people lying all over, lynchings, and one very haunting image which appeared in several different papers. It showed a young boy face down in the wet sand, his image reflected in it, where he had washed ashore after he and his family drowned while fleeing for their lives from a war-torn country. I’m afraid I don’t remember which one. There’s so many parts of the world in turmoil.
Our troops are in many of them, out of sight and out of mind.
We’ve never seen war on our soil. Only veterans and those serving can truly understand. But programs like Combat Conversations are helping. It reminds us that, while servicemembers are away facing a daily kill-or-be-killed environment and their lives back home are on hold, the rest of the world they are a part of keeps moving. Things change. When the service people return, worlds collide.
I could go on and on, but I’ll just wrap up with a heartfelt Thank You to our soldiers and veterans. I have a renewed appreciation for their experience, on the battlefield and off.