Veterans Past Programming

Veterans Past Programming

Telling was a life changing experience. It gave me the strength and courage to share my story and a platform to heal.

— Telling Project veteran participant

 

What is The Telling Project

What is it like to come home from war, move from a life of military discipline, search for a new purpose—and try to re-enter a civilian world that doesn’t understand? Florida veterans are answering those questions as they tell their personal stories of life and the military on community stages around the state.

By participating in The Telling Project, these veterans are helping bridge a communication gap with an American society in which less than 1 percent has served in uniform over the past dozen years of war. We brought the national Telling Project to Florida in 2015, sponsoring performances in the Tampa Bay area and Pensacola. Using scripts based on their own words, the veterans drew standing ovations—and lots of questions and conversation—from community audiences.

Telling: Southwest Florida

Watch this full-length Telling Project stage production of Southwest Florida area veterans at the WGCU Studio in Fort Myers, Florida.


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

Meet the Southwest Florida Veterans:

Jason Calabrese

After the 9/11 attacks, Jason joined the United States Army (2002-2005) and deployed with the 1st Infantry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Jason also joined the Florida National Guard Reserves in 2009 where he’s completed numerous annual trainings and served on State active duty in support of Hurricane Mathew disaster relief. Jason lives with his wife and five children and is currently an English professor at Florida South Western State College. Learn more about Jason and read a poem he wrote about his military experience, here.

Joseph Cofield

After high school, and during the Cold War, Joseph served 21 years in the United States Army (1976-1997). Joseph served fourteen of those years in Europe (mostly Germany) proudly working within the Signal Corps. Chaplain Assistance was his secondary military occupational specialty. After retiring from the military Joseph became an educator and is now running the Constitution Project, Inc., with the goal to get the U.S. Constitution into the hands of every 5th grade student in Florida. Joseph currently lives with his wife in Naples.

Tim Durham

Tim served seven years in the Army (1976-1983) as a reconnaissance scout with the 5th Infantry Division and 101st Airborne Division. After 9/11 and a fifteen year separation from the military, Tim joined the Florida National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the 651st Military Police Company. Tim was awarded the Bronze Star for his meritorious service as a squad leader in a platoon charged with transporting Iraqi detainees. Tim lives with his wife and daughter in Bonita Springs and currently works as an executive manager with the Collier County government. He has a law degree from FSU College of Law. Learn more about Tim and watch part of his interview, here.

Peter Slota

Peter served three years in the Army (1968-1971) and went to Vietnam as a medic with the surgery unit at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital at Long Binh and the 45th medical evacuation unit (helicopter). Peter has worked a number of careers since his military service while also becoming heavily involved in the VA and veteran support groups. Originally from a small town in Massachusetts, Peter met his wife while in the Army at Ft. Devens and currently lives in Bonita Springs. They have two grown children.

Telling: Gainesville

Meet the Gainesville Area Veterans:

Scott Camil

Scott served 4 years in the Marine Corps (1965-1969) and spent 20 months in Vietnam (3-66 – 11-67). He was honorably discharged as a Sergeant and received 2 Purple Hearts. He received his AA in pre-law from Miami Dade in 1970 and his BA in Philosophy from UF in 1973. Scott is the president of the Gainesville Chapter of Veterans for Peace and is an Executive Committee member and Political Chair of the Suwannee St Johns Group Sierra Club. He is the coordinator for Stand By Our Plan and works in his community as an activist for peace, justice, and the environment.

Sue Dudley

Twenty years as an Air Force pilot’s wife, Sue’s family of five made eleven moves, including two years in Newfoundland and three in Okinawa. Now residing in Florida, Sue has served on the League of Women Voters State Board as Natural Resources Director, the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Florida Coastal Management Program, UF IFAS’ Council of Advisors for Research and Extension in Natural Resources, and as Charlotte County Commissioner. In 2003, at the age of 68 and single again, Sue graduated from UF with a Bachelor of Arts in Environment, Economics, and Policy. She currently volunteers with Gainesville Friends of the Library.

Rafe Johnson

Rafe served in the United States Navy from 1971-1974 and worked on the USS Lexington CVT-16 as an Aircraft Radio Repairman. After his tour, he returned to Gainesville, FL, and had a number of occupations. Along the way, he attended Santa Fe Community College. His last adventure was owning a limosine service in Miami, Florida. Rafe is now retired, but running an entertainment business, and likes to spend his time writing, fishing, and taking care of my 8-year-old son.

Victor Lopez

Victor Lopez, from Salinas, CA, deployed once to the Kunar, Province in Afghanistan and served four years in the U.S. Army (2009-2012) as a Petroleum Supply Specialist. After the military, Victor moved to Gainesville and began his pursuit of attending college and is now a Sociology major at the University of Florida. After college, Victor hopes to create a program that will help combat veterans transition from service members to civilians.

Andrew Moore

Andrew served 7yrs in the US Army (2002-2009). He was a combat engineer and then was re-classed to Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare. He deployed twice to Iraq. After being medically discharged in 2009 and leaving the military, he earned an AS degree in Medical Office Administration from the College of Central Florida. He now works at the Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Fl., and resides in Williston.

Telling: Orlando

Watch this full-length Telling Project stage production of Orlando area veterans at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando.


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

Meet the Orlando Area Veterans:

Michele Cetto

Served as an Air Force personnel specialist for 10 years (1996-2006) after graduating in 1994 from the University of Central Florida. Michele took a hardship separation after 10 years of active duty service after her husband Staff Sergeant Luis Melendez died in a helicopter crash while on deployment. The Orlando resident is raising their two sons, now teenagers, and works in health administrative services at the Lake Nona Veterans Administration office.

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Jim England

Served 26 years in the Army (1986-2012), retiring as a sergeant first class. Worked first in personnel administration and then as a specialist in explosive ordinance disposal. He had numerous deployments, including Iraq twice, plus Panama, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. The Merritt Island resident is now studying at the University of Central Florida to become a social worker and hopes to work for the Veterans Administration helping soldiers as they transition from military to civilian life.

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A.S. Minor

Served two years (2006-2008) as an Army mortuary affairs specialist, joining up at age 17. He assisted with autopsies and funerals of soldiers who died overseas, and processed their personal effects. The Port Orange resident now works as a spoken-word performer in an effort to raise public awareness for mental health and to spread the message of post-traumatic growth.

Deborah Smith

A Gold Star mother whose son Marine L. Cpl. Antoine D. Smith was killed in action in 2004 in Iraq, days after his 22nd birthday. Her son joined up in 2001 immediately after graduating from high school. Now working on her third associate’s degree in the medical field, the Orlando resident focuses on serving veterans and their families to show them they are not alone and to honor the memory of her son.

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Harlan Wallner

Served nine years in the Army (1997-2006) as an artillery forward observer and was twice deployed to Iraq. After leaving the military as a Staff Sergeant, he earned a degree in philosophy and psychology from the University of Central Florida then spent a year and a half working on a memoir of war and healing in a Master of Fine Arts-Writing program at Goddard College. The Longwood resident is currently studying clinical mental health counseling as a master’s candidate at Goddard College and works as an intern at The Refuge – A Healing Place, a trauma-focused residential addiction rehabilitation facility based in Ocklawaha.

Telling: Pensacola

Watch this full-length Telling Project stage production of Pensacola area veterans.


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

Telling: Tampa Bay

Watch this full-length Telling Project stage production of Tampa Bay area veterans.

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