Telling: Pensacola

Telling: Pensacola

This program occasionally contains strong language
(which may be unsuitable for children).

Six Pensacola-area veterans shared their own stories of life and the military on community stages in November 2015. In dramatic presentations to Pensacola audiences, they talked about how and why they served, the injuries and challenges they’ve had to overcome, and how they are transitioning back into civilian life. Audience members gave them standing ovations and participated in moderated discussion with the veterans. At left, watch a video of the full-length stage production.


We sponsored Telling: Pensacola in partnership with the national Telling Project, founded in 2008 to help bridge the communication gap with an American society in which less than 1 percent of the population has served in the military over the past dozen years of war. The Telling Project hopes to promote meaningful communication between veterans and their country.

Pensacola was only the second city in Florida to host the Telling Project. See a video of a spring 2015 performance of Telling: Tampa Bay here.

Meet the Cast

Debra Russell

Served 13 years in the Navy (1984-1997), including the Gulf War Campaign, as an Independent Duty Storekeeper (9502), a certified instructor, and a contracting officer. She injured both knees and dislocated a shoulder in a fall and was discharged after a medical board found that the injuries would be difficult to heal and that the pain they caused would only get worse. She also has suffered from sexual trauma and other health issues. The Pensacola resident currently volunteers at a church and several organizations that help veterans.

Elliot James Smith

Served two years in the Army (2004-2006), including a tour in Iraq where he manned a machine gun on convoys. He also performed checkpoint duty, and on one such occasion was run over by a heavy equipment truck, causing him to lose his right leg below the knee. Following 18 months at Walter Reed Medical Center, he struggled to rebuild his life but eventually began reaching out to other veterans. He now is a marathon runner and in school to become a prosthetics provider.

Patrick McCrary

Served six years in the Marine Corps (1967-1973), after dropping out of high school in 1967 to fight in the Vietnam War. A Marine rifleman, he was wounded while in heavy combat in 1968. He earned his GED in the service, attended college for two years and worked a series of construction jobs. The Pace resident went to work for the U.S. Postal Service in 1987 and retired in 2005.

Scott Satterwhite

Served nine years as a hospital corpsman in the Navy (1990-1999), almost half of that time assigned to the Marine Corps. After discharge, he worked a number of jobs, including at restaurants and bookstores. He also helped start two businesses and was active in the Pensacola punk rock scene. After the 2005 birth of his daughter, he went back to school on the GI Bill. Now a father of two, he has master’s degrees in history and English and teaches English at the University of West Florida.

Tabitha Nichols

Served eight years in the Army National Guard (2003-2011), including a tour in Iraq. She was injured in a rocket-propelled grenade attack. The Pensacola resident is a stay-at-home mom who home-schools her daughter. She has recently begun modeling and uses this as a way to reach out to female veterans, Wounded Warriors, and veterans who deal with PTSD. Nichols, a PTSD sufferer herself, has an emotional-support dog. She enjoys writing, traveling, running 5Ks, cooking, baking, gardening, and the beach.

Timothy Jones

Served two years in the Navy (1998-2000), stationed in Japan. After discharge, he spent time adjusting and, through the assistance of the VA, was able to address his mental health concerns. The Graceville native is an advocate for veterans’ initiatives and recently was recognized as a candidate for the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award. He is a senior at the University of West Florida, has begun a career as an inspirational speaker, and is working on a novel after recently completing a 203-mile walk for homeless veterans.


Lisa Powers

Director for the “Telling: Pensacola” stage productions, Powers has worked extensively as a theater professional, drama therapist, and educator and is well known for her work as an actor and former artistic director at American Stage in St. Petersburg. She also has worked as director of the Florida Humanities Council’s “Dreamers and Schemers” historical stage productions around the state. Powers was director for the “Telling: Tampa Bay” stage productions of veterans in the Tampa Bay area during spring 2015.

Telling: Pensacola is produced in partnership with The Telling Project with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, and Gulf Power.