SHOUT! Special one day showing in Richmond

Real stories from real people:
LGBTQ+ Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services.

Playwright and Director: Melissa Rayford
Producers: Lora Beldon and DeeJay Gray

SHOUT!  is an ensemble production which includes compilations of true LGBTQ+ Military Family stories – from multiple generations and military branches, spanning rank, race, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Sponsored by the New Mexico-based Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center (MAMF), SHOUT! is a collaboration between Lora Beldon, Director of Military Kid Art Project, the Transgender Veterans Support Group of Richmond, and TheatreLab. Funding for the project came through a generous grant by the ARCUS Foundation.

SHOUT!  The play began as one story told by Theresa Duke, a trans-woman veteran for the museum’s anthology, SHOUT! Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writing by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services.  Lora Beldon, MAMF Artist-in-Residence, and MAMF Director Circe Olson Woessner were the anthology’s co-editors.

That piece, titled Inner Voices, had such strong descriptive dialogue, editors Beldon and Woessner agreed the story would translate well on stage. The play quickly grew to include many voices and stories from LGBTQ+ Military personnel and families and evolved into SHOUT! the play.

Beldon says, “MAMF has done, and is doing, pioneer work in telling the story of the LGBTQ+ military veteran and family members through exhibits and publications at the museum and out in the community. Dr. Woessner is a visionary, who has maintained from the beginning that the museum would tell the stories of ALL military families and be inclusive of all.

Shared stories are what help build and define our identity, shared stories are what help communities learn from each other, and by listening to these particular stories, people who haven’t experienced what LGBTQ veterans or their families have– just their listening and learning is a gift.”

Playwright Melissa Rayford seamlessly wove together multiple stories contributed by service members, military spouses, brats, and allies into a strong, thought-provoking and poignant piece. Five Richmond actors, assuming multiple roles, bring the piece to life. Shout! is at once funny, sad, defiant, and whimsical.

One stories author shares, “Those fantasies of aliens coming down from space to switch your body with the neighbor girl’s body, those were mine.”

Woessner says, “This play is exceptionally timely because of recent announcements from the White House regarding transgender citizens serving in the military, and the subsequent legal and political actions around that; and it also discusses how the military impacted the lives of LGBTQ spouses and children. As always, we want to focus on family stories.”

Ambitious future plans are in the works for Beldon and Woessner: to package the play for greater circulation and to create educational materials based on LGBT military history and stories in the play. Playwright Mellissa Rayford says, “It is our hope as a group that we create a production to be used by any theatre group wishing to produce this subject matter.”

TheatreLab, located in The Basement, 300 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219, known as Richmond’s home for unexpected and evocative performance, will present SHOUT!

Link for tickets:

Sunday, September 22 .  Doors open 7:00pm, General admission Tickets $20. There are discounts available for pre-sale, students, teachers, military and senior all with ID.

The Museum of the American Military Family Partners with the Albuquerque VA and New Mexico Service Organizations to raise Suicide Prevention Awareness

Contact:  Ron Bassford                                                                                                             For Immediate Release

Public Affairs Specialist                                                                 September 6, 2019

(505) 265-1711, ext. 6217 or

(505) 910-3364 cell


NMVAHCS to Host 2nd Annual Suicide Prevention Motorcycle Ride

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center will be hosting its second annual New Mexico Veterans S.A.V.E. Motorcycle Ride to help promote suicide prevention awareness throughout our state.

“Suicide is something I have personally experienced. A high school friend committed suicide, and when I was in my early 20s, another good friend took his life,” said Richardo Vallejos, State Road Captain for the American Legion Riders, Chapter 22.

This years’ ride will take place in Northern and Southern New Mexico. Approximately 50 motorcyclists from Albuquerque through the northern route; Tijeras, Espanola, and Taos, around the “Enchanted Circle,” and the ride’s final stop will be in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Approximately 50 more motorcyclists will also participate in the southern route which will start at the American Legion Post 10 and wind itself around Las Cruces and end at the local Veterans Memorial Park.  At each stop, suicide prevention information will be available to both riders and members of the local community.

The American Legion Riders of New Mexico will be coordinating the route/s.

The 2nd Annual motorcycle ride from Albuquerque to Angel Fire will take place on Saturday, September 7, starting at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center, with a kick-off ceremony at 730 a.m. and kickstands up at 8 a.m.  There will be a remembrance service on Sunday morning at the Angel Fire Vietnam Memorial. The motorcycle ride in Las Cruces will be on September 8, starting at the American Legion Post 10 (1185 E Madrid Ave.), with the kick-off ceremony at 830 am and kickstands up at 0900. The ride will end at Veterans Memorial Park and will be followed by a memorial.

“With this ride open to the public, we hope to increase awareness that suicide can be prevented, and services are available to veterans across New Mexico,” said Christina Camacho, NMVAHCS Social Worker.

This ride also coincides with September being suicide prevention month and the Department of Veterans Affairs campaign of #BeThereserves as a reminder that we all have a role to play in preventing Veteran suicide.

For more information/questions about the S.A.V.E. motorcycle ride, volunteer opportunities, or to donate, please contact Christina Camacho at (505) 265-1711, ext. 3056.

Author Talk at the Museum

War Child: Lessons Learned are Still Powerful Decades Later

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war child

East Mountain Veteran/Family Collaborative partners with the National Veteran’s Intermediary; host community events

By Circe Olson Woessner

The East Mountain Veteran/Family Collaborative, hosted at the Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center in Tijeras, has become one of nearly 100 local community partners nation-wide that make up the National Veterans Intermediary (NVI). The NVI is an initiative of the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

The East Mountain Veteran/Family Collaborative is comprised of representatives from veterans’ service organizations, business leaders, clinicians and educators working together to support veterans and their families through education, networking and community awareness.

Locally, the collaborative will sponsor quarterly military/family community resource events, military spouse monthly luncheons, “lunch and learns,” and other workshops, as well as focusing on, and addressing, the concerns of rural veterans. Nationally, the collaborative will engage as a member of a larger ecosystem working collectively to improve the lives of veterans and their families.

Air Force veteran Harold Murphree joined the collaborative because he wondered if his fellow East Mountain veterans shared the same concerns he did, and if, so, how could he help them. WWII/Occupation Army veteran Allen Dale Olson says he’s involved because the collaborative has the potential to unite community members and their resources in resolving common concerns and helping civilians see the uniqueness of military family life. Psychologist Natalie Williamson saysshe wants to give back to the community to honor and uphold the legacy of her brother SSGT Miguel Gonzales Jr. “He dedicated his life to protecting and serving God, Country, and all people. I know that if Miguel was alive today, he would say ‘you done good sis’.”

The East Mountain Veteran/Family Collaborative will be hosting a military/family and community resource day at the museum on Thursday, August 22 from 11:00-4:00. Local veteran organizations, Department of Veteran’s Services representatives, the Children’s Grief Center of New Mexico, the New Mexico Grief Center, Albuquerque Public Schools, and local businesses and voter registration will be on site. This event is free and open to the public.

The Museum is located at 546B State Highway 333, Tijeras, NM 87059. For more information about the collaborative or the resource day, contact the museum at 505-504-6830.


Looking for stories about life on the Fulda Gap

Military Humor Exhibit to Open at the Museum of the American Military Family in Tijeras

Starting on July 14, museum visitors will enjoy “GI Jokes: A (Somewhat) Light-hearted Look at Military Life”, which will be on display in the museum’s education and performance gallery. GI Jokes is one of the museum’s rotating exhibits and will be on display through October.

Created by historian and Army veteran Ron Panebouef and military spouse Stacy Parrott, the display includes works by more than a dozen prominent writers and artists. Panel art was designed by Army veteran Dominic Ruiz.

Visitors, besides enjoying a smile or a chuckle or a nostalgic memory and perhaps shedding a tear, will also learn the origin of some of our most popular daily expressions and colorful military phrases. Comic book fans will appreciate the cover art, comics, and graphic novels on display.

The exhibit was sponsored by Kaufman’s West, Comic Warehouse, Rio Grande Credit Union, and TLC Books.

The Museum of the Military Family is open Saturday through Wednesday 10:30-5:00 and is located at 546B Highway 333 (next to Molly’ s Bar).