Dr. Kenneth Wells, a UCLA psychiatrist and professor, has spent years working with veterans in Los Angeles, as a clinician and a researcher. He has worked with veterans, and their families, seeking solace from trauma and mental health issues.
As rewarding as science and practice have been, Wells, who has sung and been a choral director for pleasure since he was a teenager, decided to do something more: write an opera, drawing on more than a decade of experience as a practitioner. Based on research interviews of veterans and family members, and his own personal experience as a provider, and the experiences of his family members as veterans, this is Wells’ third opera on mental health themes.
That work - “Veteran Journeys” – will be shown this month at the 12th Annual Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles, as an official section of the festival, founded to raise awareness of causes through the eyes of independent film makers from all over the world. The film will be presented – in advance of Veterans Day, Nov. 11 - at an in-person screening at 3 pm Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Regal Cinemas at LA Live, 1000 W. Olympic Blvd., in Los Angeles. The screening will be followed by a discussion of health issues facing veterans in Los Angeles and across the United States. A streaming event will follow Oct. 31.
“These screenings are an honor for this opera, which concerns veterans with trauma from war, and with homelessness, and concerns their development of resilience in recovery through obtaining services,” said Wells, who teaches at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Semel Institute, and David Geffen School of Medicine. “It also reflects family member and provider experience – and what motivates us for resilience in recovery.”
The work is sponsored by Healing and Education through the Arts (HEArts), which supports new art works to promote mental wellness and address mental health stigma. The opera is based on real stories of veterans, family members, and providers from interviews from the landmark “Partners in Care” study by RAND and UCLA, which completed interviews with veterans and their families at 10-year follow-ups.
To attend the Oct. 30 or Oct. 31 performances, please see: Veteran Journeys Opera