My name is Stephan Wolfert. I'm a military Veteran turned professional classical actor for the stage. I know first-hand the difficulties of coming home after military service. Nearly 30 years ago, I left the Army and soon found myself in a mental health crisis with no support. I was recruited into the Army but never decruited out of the Army. I felt unfit for society. Theater saved my life. I used centuries-old texts of Shakespeare's military Veterans combined with modern therapeutic techniques to recover from addiction and transition out of homelessness. Then, I created DE-CRUIT, a non-profit that uses Shakespeare and science to address traumatic stress and associated problems of military veterans and their family members. Over the last twenty years, I’ve dedicated my life to helping my brothers and sisters in arms begin their healing journeys.
[Stephan performing "Cry Havoc!" for Semel Institute at UCLA]
After thousands of hours of listening and working through the heart-wrenching stories of others, my own health and well-being are suffering. Though I have worked with fellow trauma survivors for over two decades, technically, I am still a professional teaching artist with a Master of Fine Arts degree. I need more knowledge and specific training. With your support, I can become a licensed clinical social worker better equipped to handle the depth of trauma in the room.
[Stephan teaching R.O.T.C. cadets at Norwich University]
I’ve been accepted to Simmons University for their accelerated MSW (Masters of Social Work) program beginning Jan 2023. An artist's salary means I do not have tuition and book fees for the four-term program ($80,000). Our immediate need is $20,000 for the first term due January 3, 2023.
For twenty years, I've earned a living by being a teacher and performing artist. I've toured and performed my solo show Cry Havoc! over 500 times throughout the U.S. and six other countries, holding post-show discussions after every performance to facilitate community conversations around using the arts to help veterans process their trauma. During the past ten years, I’ve been a guest lecturer and artist-in-residence at two dozen universities and theaters. I’ve conducted workshops, keynotes, and town-hall-style conversations for Veterans, their families, therapists, and communities. And for the past five years, I've done all this while living in a converted Sprinter van with my wife, Dawn, to reach communities in need. But, my years as an Army Airborne Infantryman have taken a terrible toll on my knees and back, and I cannot sustain gig-life.
I need your help to continue being of service and promoting healing for our nation's military Veterans and all those who care for them. Your tax-deductible donation to DE-CRUIT is an investment in me and community-level trauma treatment nationwide.
[Stephan performing Cry Havoc! Photo by Ashley Garrett]
A bit about my non-profit DE-CRUIT
DE-CRUIT is a 501-c3 organization that received the 2020 Aaron Stein Award from the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA), given to an organization that utilizes creative applications of group therapy to benefit the community, especially in non-psychiatric settings. I am humbled by the community of artists, educators, veterans and mental health professionals supporting DE-CRUIT. Because of that support, thousands of Veterans and their family members have taken the DE-CRUIT program free of charge. Furthermore, we’ve been able to give veterans stipends to support their travel costs and time off of work to participate. Please look at our seventeen scientific publications, countless articles and interviews, and five chapters in books about trauma here. Additional materials are here.
All this and more has been accomplished by an all-volunteer group of concerned, committed citizens trying to combat the devastating effects of suicide and PTSD in our communities.
[NYC DE-CRUIT team from left to right: Mary Jo McConnell (Veteran), Dawn Stern COO, Stephan Wolfert (Veteran) CEO, Dr. Alisha Ali CRO, Craig Manbauman (Veteran)]
No award, accolade, or press means more to me than the thousands of hours I've spent listening to and providing solace for my brothers and sisters in arms and healing. With your support, I can continue to help veterans purge the poison or, as Shakespeare says, “speak what we feel, and not what we ought to say” -King Lear
[Stephan & spouse Dawn Stern. Photo by Brenna Merritt]
Photos in collage: (left headshot) by Brenna Merritt, (top right) DE-CRUIT workshop at Norwich University, (bottom left to right) The Head of Richard photo by Ashley Garrett, Basic Training photo, Cry Havoc! post-show discussion in Australia
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