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Play illuminates veterans’ problems

For 23 years, Scott Mann fought for his country as a Green Beret.

Now he’s fighting for his fellow soldiers and their families.

Mann, who retired as a lieutenant colonel, wrote and stars in the play “Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret,” which will be staged Saturday and Sunday at DeYor Performing Arts Center’s Ford Family Recital Hall. The play was written to convey the physical and emotional costs of service, both to the men and women in uniform and the families they leave behind.

Jamie Dunn, communications director for The Heroes Journey, the nonprofit Mann created, said, “It started as a means of personal therapy for himself and his transition out of the service … It educates civilians on what the real cost of the war is to the everyday soldier.”

Some of the problems the play deals with are universal to military service. Others are unique to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, now in their 18th year, which means the children of those first deployed in 2003 now are old enough to serve.

“It deals with the effects of an 18-year war with multiple deployments, which until now is unheard of,” Dunn said.

The show is described as “combat storytelling” on its website (www.lastout play.com) as it tells the story of Green Beret Danny Patton and follows the battles that take place in Afghanistan and the ones that occur back home.

“It’s all based on true stories, but it’s not autobiographical to Scott’s experience,” Dunn said, adding that Mann drew on the experiences of other veterans and their families for the play. “It’s kind of like a tapestry of all those people to tell a collective story of what the experience is like.”

“Last Man Out” premiered with a staged reading in May 2018, and the first full production was in Tampa, Fla., in November 2018 on a makeshift stage in the rented ballroom of a hotel. Mann took the show on the road in 2019, playing more than a dozen cities and getting national coverage from Tom Brokaw and “NBC Nightly News” and “CBS Sunday Morning.”

Mann is joined by three other military veterans (Ame Livingston, Bryan Bachman and Leonard Bruce) on stage, and the crew is filled with veterans as well. Dunn said the touring group includes two trained psychologists.

“We’re able to provide on-the-spot PTS (post-traumatic stress) interventions to those who need it and connect them to long-term services.”