Below are a few touching letters I have been honored to receive from veterans. I have been given permission by each veteran to share their letters.
The images next to the letters are not the the actual people who have written me. I want to give a sense of the incredible sacrifice that has been made by so many veterans and families.
Thank you to them and we can never say thank you enough!
November 9, 2018
Good afternoon Doug,
Words cannot express my profound gratitude in being able to experience your amazing performance at the Bank earlier this week. I have been working for my employer nearly 30 years and have NEVER experienced anything they offered that was as moving and touching as your performance. Words cannot describe the power I felt in the auditorium where my colleagues and I were all affected by your incredibly powerful performance.
As you carried out each story, you truly transcended the audience into the life of a soldier. Your performance allowed us to ‘feel’, ‘see’ and ‘empathize’ with each character. As I sat in amazement, I was able to relate your stories to a number of family members and friends that have served in the military.
Your performance transported me to my personal tragedy in which my son-in-law, Alex Guzman-Lopez, tragically died in Darwin Falls, Australia nearly 10 years ago. Words cannot express the experience as a mother receiving that dreadful call from my first born daughter screaming and crying at the other end stating ‘Alex is dead’. Until this day, my daughter recalls the pain she experienced when she encountered a Gunnery Sergeant, Pastor and Marine who knocked at her door and confirmed her name and then stated “We regret to inform you………” when she thought the knock was Alex returning home early from his deployment.
Thank you again as I will always remember how touched I was by your performance. You have a gift that is to be shared and am blessed to have been one of your witnesses.
With great gratitude,
Vietnam civilian nurse
September 11th, 2016
My name is Rosemary Orozco and I was a nurse during the Vietnam war from November 1967 to May of 1969. I was there with The United State's Agency for International Development and I worked in the Dalat Hospital with Vietnamese and French Surgeons. We essentially treated civilians and the Vietnamese Military.
I was totally moved and overwhelmed by what I had seen and heard onstage by you. The next day was September 11th and I was at the Memorial service on Pier A in Hoboken, and I shared your show with anyone that I encountered including the Mayor and councilman Michael De Fusco.
What you have created is way beyond wonderful and the multiple roles that you play are so relatable and recognizable, that it’s scary how real they are. I saw and felt the pain and journey of each character you created and remembered all the tragedy I saw as a nurse in Vietnam. I heard their voices and felt their pain all over again.
I think what you have created is so wonderful and so important that it tells the story of all of our veterans from all of our conflicts. The idea hat that the boy who left is not the man when he returns, still resonates with me. You are gifted and incredibly compassionate and blessed to be able to do this kind of work. You have an admirer out there and you may find this silly but if you hear music, that may be me singing your praises.
Thank you for doing this show in New Jersey and take care!
Rose S. - Civilian Nurse, United State's Agency for International Development, November 1967 - May 1969
July 20th, 2017
Your performance was 1st class, moving, thoughtful, compassionate and heart felt from the very beginning to the end.
Tried holding back my tears- but that didn't last long... Saw myself and my battle buddies, including my AIr Force Veteran son who just returned back from a deployment in Syria.
My war was Desert Storm 1990-91 where my service as a HUEY Medevac Helicopter Crewchief/Gunner with the US Army flying missions in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait brought my life to the brink of tragedy and had me look the face of War in the eye....the scenes of horror below my Helo and the wounded servicemen and woman we aided in flight from the battlefield haunt me daily.
Same goes for two of Soldiers Who accompanied me to your performance. One my Helo Pilot - who went on to serve, sacrifice and deploy again in 2 more wars OEF and OIF. His son was there yesterday too (A West Pt Graduate) and also a 2 deployment Warrior...he wasn't wearing his sunglasses yesterday during your performance because of the sun...He still leads Soldiers today in the Army Nat Guard and will most likely deploy again during his career - now with 2 small children.
Our burden and Daily struggle with the invisible wounds of war (PTS) and the physical ones are impossible to totally erase. We use strategies to cope and drive on and live a life of meaning. Don't think we ever entirely heal. What you do I believe is Cathartic and it reinforces the will to "Never give up, never stop fighting" for inner Peace despite our experiences.
I’ m a graduate of Saveawarrior.org. Please reach out to Jake Clark he founder - he would love to have you guide our Warriors back to a foundation of healing - I truely believe you are doing that through your performance.
God Bless you and your beautiful family - You'll never know and words can't express what your performance has meant to me.
Love and Peace,
Desert Storm Combat Veteran
United States Marine, SERGEANT
April 3, 2016
Just wanted to drop you a quick line to say a big \"THANK YOU\" for your incredible performance in Houston last night.
I met my wife after I was honorably discharged from the Marines in ‘02. She’s been dealt a great hand in life while growing up; she never had to worry about money, anything she wanted she got, and she’s never suffered a major hardship or close death in the family.
Her thoughts on the military were below my expectations and at times her harsh comments about the military and the types of people that joined offended me. As proud as I am to have served from ’97 to ’02, I find myself rarely discussing my experiences with her.
Last night (after your show) was the first time she expressed any interest in the military. She opened up and apologized for the previous fights we had about the military, she inquired about the times/experiences I had while I was serving, and truly hugged me for my service (she even whispered an “I’m proud of you” in my ear).
Thank you for the many years you spent creating and acting out this performance. I wish you the best and once again THANK YOU for changing my wife’s perspective on the military and for being our voice.
Jeff S. (SGT - USMC ’97-’02)
Iraq and afghanistan
November 10th, 2016
Your performance was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen on stage. I served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a lot of times when people come up to me and ask me how does it feel to experience war, I personally can never find the works to express my experience, the way your performance did. Your performance says it all and your play is a voice for veteran.
Marc Coveli, Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Purple Heart Recipient 2014.
April 28th, 2018
Your play The American Soldier delivers with passion, clarity and honesty why soldiers look at life differently. War is hell for the families of soldiers also. The true story of the soldiers and family letters you portray leave you numb.
Your passion for the stories you enact helps us realize what the American soldier does and why he does it. Your depiction of the love hate relationship war creates in the mind of the combat veteran is remarkable. How many of us are aware of this?
Douglas, your inspiring portrayal of our veterans remind us of the debt we owe our nations defenders. You pull no punches of the fact that we must remember those heroes killed in action and we must reflect on the living veterans who bear the physical and emotional scars of war.
How they return home to a public that has no skin in the game and are completely oblivious to the effect and sacrifices on their families. The American Soldier and it’s message makes you realize how hard it is for veterans to care about normal things when they come back.
Normal life seems silly and pointless to them. A sign of PTSD. Veterans grow resentful of those who go about their lives indifferent to their experiences and the sacrifices of the brothers and sisters with whom they have served. They are returning soldiers who can not cope with civilian life in a normal world, where there is no similar brotherhood, no bond as strong as the experience of combat and the reliance on one another for survival.
The American Soldier message is a must see for the American public to fully understand and better support our veterans. A wake up call for many of us too busy to notice. Douglas, your passionate support of veterans and their families is outstanding.
Your performance in Bedford, New York left us speechless. You left a lasting impression on everyone in the audience, as well as myself.
Joe Reynolds, Vietnam Veteran
United States Air Force Veteran
Your play The American Soldier was able to immediately capture us, captivate us, and meaningfully change the perception of what the experience of war truly is.
You were adept at depicting place, time, sights, sounds, smells, and a sense immediacy of the soldiers lives. Most importantly, you helped us feel the simultaneous juxtaposition of both the pure and gritty - the raw and sober emotion war brings out, exposing almost continuously in those affected.
It is, at times, demanding to watch and challenging to hear their words echoed back across time. I had quite a few people come up to me, and remark how much they enjoyed the program and how incredibly moving it was.
Know that each time you perform Douglas, you're touching people in ways they weren't expecting. And for those who had an idea what to expect, you’re touching them as well.
David Zapsky Veteran, USAF
Blue Star Mother & Father
February 10th, 2019
I was so overwhelmed and emotionally touched to be an eyewitness to many soldiers intimate and personal stories in your play on February 2, 2019. I was able to feel this raw emotion thanks to your one man play, The American Solider.
As a Blue Star Mom of 2 Army Veterans, you evoked feelings that I had not felt before in regard to my boys deployments. One son struggles to this day with the effects of war with TBI. My hope and prayer is that The American Soldier would be seen by civilians across America, as well as military service members and their families. This production WILL LET THEM SEE and FEEL what military life is about and the ongoing struggles that many war Veterans endure each day.
Thank you, Douglas,…my life is not the same since seeing The American Soldier.
Susan Peterson, New Hampshire, Blue Star Mother
Your play “The American Soldier” is a powerful riveting testimonial from inside the “souls” of veterans spanning hundreds of years. Your authentic capture of each soldiers’ or mothers’ most personal thought during conflict is stunning, impactful and presented with a deep compassion that invokes an emotional response from an audience of all ages.
As the son of two World War II Veterans and the father of two veterans (US Army), this play affected me on many levels and gave me a profound respect and admiration for the American serviceman.
During the audience “talk back” session after the performance; I found that an audience from all walks of life were touched by the performance and wanted to ask questions or share their experiences. From a Gold Star Mother to a female veteran, or veterans that served over fifty years ago --- this performance brings home the heart and soul of why our veterans serve! For family and country.
Bill Peterson, New Hampshire, Blue Star Father
US ARMY Major, VIETNAM WAR daughter, DEPENDENT
My strongest reaction to your play was to the family dealing with the sudden absence of their husband and father. I remember when my father left for Viet-nam in 1967 that i had never seen my Mother cry. Just before the bus came, she went to the bathroom, and my father sent me to get her when the bus arrived. She was in there crying. I told her the bus was there, and she dried her eyes, washed her face, and sent him off to war with a calm face.
He knew that we would all be safe because she was there, and did not have to be distracted by worrying about us. She knew that the Good Army Wife copes with the loneliness, and the financial hardship, and the agony of waiting for a notification team to come to the house, and sends her husband off to be successful. And we went on. No one waited for "your father to come home" for discipline, or for advice, we just went on. Each hiding our misery from the other, because it would not help the family survive. We went on without him.
Your show touched me very much Douglas!
Vera R Boals, Major, US Army Retired, Dependent
Gold Star Family, Wife of Vietnam Veteran
February 3rd, 2019
Your play provided some reassurance of the multi-faceted duties, conundrums, consequences and contributions of American Soldiers, over the course of our country's history as just that - complicated and consequential in all kinds of long and short term ways. I realize how much more complicated and difficult it is to protect and preserve a country than most civilians think. The play was a useful and important prompt for me to continue sorting out those difficult realities. It also provided an opening for me to appreciate the safety and security I enjoy because of them. Compassion, Gratitude and THANK YOU to you and all of them!
My deceased husband was a Marine who served 3 tours in Vietnam. Only now, am I beginning to better understand and appreciate the training, commitment and dedication that came along with it.
Thank you for what you do!
Glee Hooper, Gold Star Wife
Blue Star Family
February 13th, 2019
Thank you so much for bringing a group this powerful and compelling stories to our stage in New Hampshire. Your piece was particularly moving to me; it reminds me of my family, especially those we've lost. I come from a military family. Everyone has served except my parents and most of them are career soldiers. But everyone, and I mean everyone in our family has served in every American war except the War of 1812 so it was particularly beautiful and emotional to hear stories from all eras, from all those in my past.
These stories particularly reminded me of my grandfather who passed away 8 years ago. A career Air Force intelligence officer, he could never talk about his service because it was classified. I never got to hear what his story was. But I felt his presence during your performance particularly when you enact a character's visit to the Vietnam War Memorial.
I miss him terribly. Keep it up as long as you can. I know Pepaw would have wanted to see it.
Thanks you and my sincerest best wishes!!
Emelie Vandenberg, Blue Star Family