Coming home to the arts: theatre with military veterans and families

Alison O’Connor (Re-Live, Cardiff, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Publication date: 20 March 2017



A significant number of military veterans and family members are living with post-traumatic stress, unmet mental health needs and isolation. There is growing interest in the potential of theatre and the expressive arts as a positive intervention with this population. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the Coming Home programme which aims to create opportunities for military veterans and families to develop an ongoing engagement with the arts and through that engagement to access new ways of regulating and expressing complex emotions.


This case study shares reflections from Re-Live’s current theatre programme, Coming Home. The programme methodology uses reflective writing, theatre and choral singing to develop participants wellbeing and reduce isolation.


Initial feedback suggests that this programme has significant potential as a way of reconnecting veterans and families with their community and improving their wellbeing. The emotional release of group singing and performing together has been powerful. Participants report that the Coming Home programme is connecting them with parts of themselves they thought had gone forever: humour, spontaneity, fun – and having a positive impact on their wellbeing.


This case study contributes to the literature from the exciting and emerging field of the use of the creative arts with military veterans and families.



O’Connor, A. (2017), "Coming home to the arts: theatre with military veterans and families", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 12-14.

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