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Vets find healing through Shakespeare

"The problem with the military is you keep things in, you keep things in, and then they just build and they just sit there... this kind of allows you to release it in a way that's healthy."

This past Saturday afternoon, the basement of St. John's church was filled with veterans. And it was all thanks to a rather unusual character: William Shakespeare.

The organization is called Feast of Crispian, and every few months, these veterans gather together to read and perform various Shakespeare pieces as a means of therapy.

But, what does Shakespeare have to do with the military?

Milwaukee-area Veteran Ronnie Graham explains,

"Stories that he tells are just so relevant still today... Just take for example, we talk about Hamlet: 'to be or not to be.' He's talking about suicide which is very relevant in the veteran community. It just allows you to get these emotions and feelings out in a safe and helpful way."

And not only do these Shakespeare pieces discuss emotions and topics relevant to these veterans, but co-founder Nancy Smith-Watson explains that often times acting can be a very effective way to help vets with PTSD,

"As actors we are all about the complexity of human nature. There isn't ever a point where with think that anything that is said is bad or wrong... acting helps channel and express these, sometimes sheltered, emotions."

...And the organizations title, "Feast of Crispian?" Well, it's a playful nod to Shakespeare's 'Henry V,' in which he refers to soldiers as a "remembered band of brothers." And, thanks to Shakespeare and Feast of Crispian, these remembered band of brothers are finding healing, and they're doing it together.

To learn more about Feast of Crispian, you can visit them online at