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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

HEALTH & HEALING The Telling Project, a national performing arts group, uses theater to explore the experiences of military and veterans.

TELLING G STORIES

By Cindy Kuzma

Veterans organizations harness the power of sharing to ease transitions and build connections

EORGE HAUGHT SERVED THREE years in the Marine Corps, including one year in Vietnam and 31 days in one of the war’s longest, bloodiest battles in Huế City. Then, he spent 48 years in silence. “I was like this little turtle,” said Haught, who now lives in Monaca, Pa. “I stayed in my shell, within my small circle of friends.” That was until last spring, when a fellow Marine he met at a hardware store told him about a community listening event called the Veterans Breakfast Club (VBC). Over scrambled eggs and bacon, Haught opened up about his time in combat. The rivers of blood, the lack of ammunition,

LUKE HEIKKILA

the complete and utter certainty he would die — the words, and emotions, came fast. He couldn’t help but cry. Since then, Haught has told his story on a VBC podcast and at many morning meals (veteransbreakfastclub.com), including at a breakfast attended by his daughter and grandchildren, who’d never heard him speak about his experiences. Each retelling still drains him, but afterward, he’s calmer and less jumpy. He now volunteers to help organize VBC events, which have served roughly 5,000 veterans in western Pennsylvania since 2008. “I’d often wondered why I had survived the battle. The more I get to talking about CO N T I N U E D

Profile for STUDIO Gannett

VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017  

VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017