VETERANS of the British Armed Forces shared their stories of service and life after the military as part of a special event at the University of Portsmouth.
‘Service: In the Words of Military Veterans’ is a research project led by Dr Erika Hughes, a Senior Lecturer in Drama and Performance at the University of Portsmouth, to allow the public a deeper understanding of the armed forces and allow veterans to talk openly about their experience.
Dr Hughes said: ‘I started doing a similar project in Arizona after my brother’s wife told me she was worried about how he was coping with his life in the military.
‘When I went to talk to him about it he brushed it off and couldn’t just talk about it.
‘I was naive but it made me think about how else I could help and this project has two aims in that it challenges preconceived notions of military life as well as veterans, and those who are still serving, to talk to each other in a safe environment.’
The unscripted and uncensored 50-minute performance featured three veterans, Dr Peter Lee and Steve Radley, former chaplins in the services, and Ashley Neve, who was a medic.
Dr Lee said: ‘It is only in the last few years that I have begun to speak about how this has affected my life, and realised how much it has.
‘There are certain things only people in the services can ask each other about their experience that civilians would not be able to.
‘The performance is not about talking about violence and killing people – I have never killed anyone – but it is about the human experience and what we have seen and how it effects us emotionally.’
Dr Hughes added: ‘It is interesting to have the three of them chat and ask each other questions because there are things they talked about that as a civilian we would not know to ask, and we learn more than we would think.’
The project would like to have a few other veterans or serving personnel to take part in their next performance.
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