MSIM/nh: SUMMARY OF OUTCOMES
In all, from the first “teaser” reading in October of 2012 to the final talkback in June 2013, MAKE SURE IT’S ME/nh reached approximately 800 audience members in Seacoast and central New Hampshire. During the June run of 590 attendees, 29 tickets were claimed by post-9/11 veterans and 44 discounted tickets were purchased by declared veterans of other eras, for a total of 73 veterans in attendance, or roughly 12% of our audience. [Additionally, several veterans indicated to us that they had indeed served in the military but wished to pay the full ticket price to support our mission. So the actual percentage of veterans in attendance and participating in talkbacks was slightly higher than 12%]. While these numbers may seem small compared to the thousands or millions of viewers we might find through television or the internet, across our event series we made 800 real-life connections. Through this project, ACT ONE built 800 bridges between and among the military, civilian, injured, care-giving, service-providing, questioning, deeply concerned citizens of New Hampshire.
In the 2014, Leslie brought MAKE SURE IT’S ME events to the Red River Theatres in Concord, NH, where the cast included included Navy veteran and state PTSD/TBI Commissioner Nicholas Tolentino; and to Greenfield Community College in Massachussetts, where Leslie worked with student veterans to perform in scenes from the play.
MAKE SURE IT’S ME/nh: FUTURE PLANS
An ongoing challenge to those working to help veterans with TBI is the difficulty in locating those who may be injured and not even know it. There is a generation of combat veterans who left the service between 2004, when the Iraqi insurgency greatly increased the incidence of IED blast-related trauma, and 2007, when Traumatic Brain Injury protocols began to be put into place. The nature of blast-related trauma can lead to delayed onset of symptoms, which further complicates a veteran’s understanding of his or her injuries and the connection of symptoms to the experience of the IED blast. Often, it is the veteran’s loved ones who will detect the symptoms first and who will need support in finding help.
Throughout the MSIM/nh event series, audiences and sponsors have told us that public performances and discussions around blast-related TBI can serve a crucial function in helping to identified injured veterans and connect them to the services they need. After every event, we have been asked us what we plan to do next to continue serving the military families of New Hampshire. Late in 2014, ACT ONE producer Stephanie Nugent concluded her commitment to MSIM/nh, but encouraged Leslie to continue this work. In collaboration with playwright Kate Wenner, she have decided to build upon the Library Presentation model to continue sharing our message. Leslie discovered in Greenfield that directing a group of local veterans to perform for their own community is particularly rewarding. She will bring this model to the Manchester Vet center on October 8, 2015, with six veterans participating as readers. She’d love to hear from you if you’d like to bring MSIM/nh to your library, Vet Center, or college campus.
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