Below are a few touching letters I have been privilege and honored to receive from veterans. I have been given permission by each veteran to share their letters.
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
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
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. Thank you!
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
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