Veterans. We all know someone who has served in the military. We likely also know someone who suffers from depression, survivor’s guild, self-blame, impaired thinking caused by substance abuse, or some kind of post-traumatic stress. The number of veterans suffering and committing suicide is staggering.
Shortly after the pandemic hit the US in March 2020, the Washington Times reported that per the Veterans Administration as many as 20 American veterans per day commit suicide.
Some veterans eventually find and outlet. Some create their own like Román Baca.
Román Baca is a classically trained ballet dancer and choreographer. In 2001, recognizing his desire to defend the defenseless, he took a hiatus from dance and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving as a machine-gunner and fire-team leader in Fallujah, Iraq during the Iraq War. After the war, Mr. Baca returned to dance and co-founded Exit 12 Dance Company, which tells veterans’ stories choreographically, to increase cross-cultural understanding and heal divisions.
As Román was putting these important stories on stage, veterans were struggling with reintegration and dying by suicide. In response, so he launched a revolutionary program, Movement 2 Contact, to inspire those impacted by war by choreographing their stories.
These two elements are at the crux of his expertise, which is supported by a knowledge he has gained along the way in nonprofit administration, strategy, marketing, fundraising, research, dance, and choreography – which I love sharing with students through lectures, guest teaching opportunities, mentorships, and lecturing.
Román is also working and volunteering in the following roles: a data analyst for a current research project for the Department of Defense, marketing for Soldiers’ Arts Academy in the UK, and is applying for a PhD in Performance Studies or Health Humanities.
While happy in his position, Román does have interests in connecting with other professionals in social impact arts, veterans, peacebuilding, dance and choreography, and academia. He is looking to increase Exit12’s international reach and scale Exit12’s programs that connect veterans and civilians through movement.
Discussion Points/Time Stamps
- Who is Roman Baca 0:43
- Marine Life 7:52
- Post Iraq 12:05
- The Birth of Exit 12 16:16
- Contact Info 34:24
- On the Horizon3 6:40
- Paraplegics in Dance 39:41
- The Therapy Journey 44:34
- Exit12 Newsletter: http://exit12danceco.org/newsletter
- Exit12 Dance Company: http://www.exit12danceco.org/
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