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How the Creative Arts are Healing for Veterans

“It’s a process to understand and apply the Method. Once it clicks, it opens up so many possibilities.”

Marquise Simmons, Petty Officer Second Class, United States Navy

Serving in the U.S. military may involve a lifelong career commitment or just a brief stint. In either case, many retiring veterans are interested in starting new civilian careers after their service in the military. Veterans in media and entertainment, for example, are often in demand. Casting directors know that veterans bring an admirable level of commitment and discipline to their work. Accordingly, acting jobs are often available for veterans who wish to work in the industry – and are properly prepared to do so.

Self-Discovery in a Non-Threatening Environment

Art therapy for veterans has always been a tool that empowers veterans and enables them to engage in a process of self-discovery in a non-threatening environment. It promotes healing and growth. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs encourages engagement in the arts by returning soldiers and notes it as a potentially life-changing, if not life-saving, endeavor. There are many art therapy ideas for veterans; acting is among the most active and demanding. It requires physical presence, being in the moment, and the ability to access genuine feelings and vulnerabilities – even if these feelings belong to a character and not necessarily the performer. The therapeutic potential of exploring difficult emotions and situations through the embodiment of a character on the page is self-evident. 

Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and Veteran Actors

At The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, we offer approved programs for veterans attending on the GI Bill. Since 1944, this important legislation has provided educational support benefits for veterans and their families who wish to further their education. This includes college, graduate school and other forms of training. At LSTFI, we specialize in The Method: a systematic approach to acting, popularized and developed for American actors by Lee Strasberg. The Method underpins the success of some of the most celebrated actors of the past seven decades. 

A survey of veterans who have enrolled in our programs reveals unique perspectives on the value — and appeal — of LSTFI. Numerous veterans noted that Lee Strasberg comes highly recommended and agreed that the excellent staff, scheduling flexibility, level of training, and knowledgeability and expertise of instructors make LSTFI a standout option. “…the teachers at Strasberg really care about the students and try their best to help them. Another great thing is the fact that new students are thrown in a class with students [who are] about to graduate. That way, [newer] students can also learn from other students.”
“It is a stellar program and the place to go if you are serious about acting,” wrote one veteran. We asked if the survey participants would recommend the program to other veterans. “Hell yes,” responded one enthusiastic veteran, “and I have recommended it, and I plan on coming back myself.” Another added, “The work itself can be challenging and very rewarding at the same time if the performer puts in the work.”

Life for Veteran Actors during COVID-19 and Quarantine

What about life during COVID-19 when it comes to acting jobs for veterans? How has the current state of affairs affected the lives of these veterans-turned-actors? “I’m currently studying and working,” says one veteran.“After graduating I went to many auditions and worked on several short films. After the Coronavirus passes, I’ll be looking to taking more classes to continue pursuing my dream as an actor.” 
Another wrote, “[I’m doing] community service work; using my knowledge of being truthful with others, and empathizing.” Time spent at LSTFI has clearly opened doors, both physical and mental, for some veterans. “I have switched to screenwriting and try to use Method Training to bring characters to life,” noted one survey respondent. “I’m still actively working. I book most of my auditions, and relaxation is used in every aspect of my life.” “I have been doing voice-over work,” wrote another veteran, “and I have used the exercises to great benefit.” The opportunities to apply The Method to different facets of both life and the industry are endless.

Get Involved

If you are a veteran with GI Bill benefits seeking a rigorous Method Acting program, contact our New York or Los Angeles campus to find out more about the programs available to you and how to apply.

Winter 202111/1 Update: Online

The Lee Strasberg Institute announces that Winter 2021 term classes will begin with fully online instruction, per State & Local guidance.

Click here for Winter online classes in New York City. | Click here for Winter online classes for Los Angeles.

The Institute is also offering new short-term online only classes. See Online Acting

Please note that the State of California color-coded reopening system does not permit any in-person instruction until the County is at least in the red tier (25% capacity). Los Angeles remains in purple.