The Telling Project helps vets, civilians cope with life after war

The Telling Project, a theater production where veterans and family members go on stage to tell their stories. It's a show that's helping veterans and their families cope with life after the military.

The Telling Project is a traveling production based on the experiences of eight Austin veterans and military family members-most with no stage experience.

For Regina Vasquez, a Marine vet and a mother of five, The Telling Project became a very personal way to talk to her daughter about what happened to her.

"My daughter has watched me go through my symptoms of PTSD. I'm a veteran with PTSD. Growing up she noticed I was depressed, she noticed that I could become angry and triggered. Last week she came and she saw and she heard for the first time what I experienced, that I was raped in the military. When she sat and she watched it she understood, she cried and so did I because she was in the audience but it helped her understand more and gave her a power that if my mom can stand up and talk about it then I can too," Vasquez said.

Malachi Muncy says that he was alienated and alone when he returned from Iraq. Joining the telling project and acting out his story with other vets gave him a place where he felt he belonged.

"This is a pretty life changing experience. Even though I know the benefits of storytelling, the other cast members I've met through this are going to be folks I don't lose contact with for decades. It's really brought the group of us together in a community that's hard to find," Muncy said.

The project creator, Jonathan Wei, has produced performances in 15 cities in 10 states. He came up with the idea six years ago.

"We were trying to do effective outreach and start a connection with civilians and vets. We came up with this idea because it gave vets time to prepare their stories…created a space for the expectation of the audience where things that weren't talked about a place where they could be talked about. And a place for the vets to talk about those things," Wei said.

Regina Vasquez is thankful that The Telling Project has not only helped her cope with her life after war, but has also inspired her daughter to take a stand.

"There was a boy in class joking about rape and she stood up to him and told the boy that rape is no joke. The boy picked on her but she stood her ground, and I like to think that she got that from me, especially after watching The Telling Project," Vasquez said.

The Telling Project is a collaboration with the city of Austin and ACC.

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