Former Marine joins Legacy Theater Company to cope with PTSD

Former Marine finds theater as PTSD therapy

JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY - For Joel Wright, the stage now gives him the rush he once had as a Marine. A former Camp Lejeune Marine turned actor is now a member of the Legacy Theater Company in Jacksonville.

Wright has always had a love for the spotlight, but his passion has taken on a new meaning.

"The bad thoughts you have through the day just all goes away when you're on stage," Wright said.

Wright has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, after he deployed to Afghanistan and was injured. Remembering lines and dance steps are his way of coping now.

"It just makes my PTSD -- not go way, but brings it down," Wright said. "Because it's always going to be there, and it always flares up, but being on stage just kind of pushes it away temporarily.

Wright's wife Rebecca says performing has made a world of difference in his attitude.

"He just started to come back a little bit, and it was amazing," Rebecca said. "He started to smile again, and laugh, and it was lovely."

Legacy Theater Company president Erika Hose also sees change.

"He was so quiet and reserved when he first came here, and you kind of had to pull the words out of him, and then we gave him a starring role in 'Clue,' " Hose said. "He played Mr. Green, and he started coming out of his shell even more."

Now that Legacy members have a new venue -- an old antique shop turned into a blackbox theater -- they're more like family.

In that building, no worries are allowed.

"You can leave your troubles at the door," Wright said. "People have problems. Everybody has problems, and whenever you come here, they go away."

Wright is one of the leads of the Legacy Theater Company's upcoming show, "One Day More," a review of music from shows like "Grease" and "West Side Story."

For more information on the community theater and upcoming productions, visit

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