Welcome to the “Veterans Day” edition of the Evolving Man Project’s ‘Evolved Men of the Week’ profile. Today we will highlight historical and contemporary figures who embodied what it meant to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the Combat Hippies.
Led by renowned theater artist and director Teo Castellanos, the Combat Hippies is an ensemble of Puerto Rican military veteran performing artists based in Miami, Florida. Formed during a creative writing workshop for veterans in 2015, which culminated with their inaugural theater piece “Conscience Under Fire,” they have since developed multiple evenings of spoken word and music, generative approaches to workshops designed toward healing, community engagement offerings and more. The company focuses on works about combatants as people of color and shares experiences of veterans adjustments to life after the war as well as that of civilians from war-torn countries. Their work also explores the search for meaning, purpose, and identity through enlisting in the military, as well as Puerto Rico’s cultural and military heritage.
The entire team consists of; Seth “Brimstone” Schere, Music Producer, Gary Lund, Technical Director, Angel Ruben Rodriguez, Sr., Percussionist/Performer/Writer, Anthony Torres, Jr., Executive Director/Writer/Performer, and Hipólito Arriaga III – Writer/Performer. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of spending time with both Anthony Torres and Hipólito on several occasions. As a fellow combat veteran, their work is moving, unsettling, and compelling. It offers a fantastic counterpart to the mainstream veteran narrative about the military experience. Here are Combat Hippies in their own words about the veteran mystique:
“We as a group are using the performing arts to de-stigmatize veteran’s issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress, suicide, and community reintegration,” … “But raising awareness isn’t enough. Our goal is to engage the community because we are stronger together.” It is no secret that veteran services in this country have seriously lacked since the Vietnam era. For all the posturing and fanfare returning vets receive from grateful civilians, there is a serious disconnect between reality and fiction.”
Today we honor the Combat Hippies as our Evolved Men of the Week.