The Midwest Shelter For Homeless Veterans in Wheaton is filming the acclaimed Vietnam memoir play, "Place of Angels," to serve as the centerpiece of a new fundraising DVD the organization is producing to honor the sacrifices of America's combat veterans.
The play, written by shelter co-founder Bob Adams, will be filmed at the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago Monday, Dec. 3, in front of a live audience of invited guests who share the shelter's vision to "leave no veteran behind to homelessness."
" 'Place of Angels' is one of the best, most compelling and dramatic expressions of combat experiences and its human effects that I have ever seen," said Paul H. Herbert, a retired Army colonel and executive director of the First Division Museum at Cantigny in Wheaton. "It will resonate with any combat veteran and it clearly depicts why the issues facing veterans are so important."
The filming is being underwritten by sponsors Comcast, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and an anonymous donor. Other event sponsors include Mike Cahill and Cathy O'Connell-Cahill, Daniel and Heidi Rooney, Lisle Savings Bank, Republic Bank and Wheaton Bank and Trust Co.
"We are very appreciative of the financial support provided by Comcast, the McCormick Foundation and our other generous sponsors," Adams said. "Our goal is to capture the essence of my experience in Vietnam and share it with a broader audience to help both educate and heal."
Featuring veteran actor Jeff Still, "Place of Angels" is an autobiographical account of Adams' experience as a Navy corpsman during the Vietnam War, as he sought to care for wounded Marines amid a conflict that was both horrifying and exasperating. Filled with the vivid details and complex relationships that only firsthand experiences can offer, "Place of Angels," debuted at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theater in 2000.
Adams left for Vietnam in 1968 as a skinny 20-year-old from south suburban Oak Lawn, blind in one eye -- and returned home a little more than a year later with a host of substance abuse issues. If it weren't for his mother taking him in when he couldn't pay his rent, he might have ended up homeless.
Adams sought help for his addictions, eventually going back to college and earning a master's degree in social work. Later he opened a private practice where he counseled veterans, police officers, firefighters and others who had experienced traumatic situations. In 2007, Adams co-founded the Midwest Shelter For Homeless Veterans, which offers housing and supportive services to help veterans return to self-sufficiency.
While there are no tickets available to the public for the filming, people interested in reserving a copy of the "Place of Angels" DVD should email Pamela Kostecki, the shelter director of operations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Located in downtown Wheaton, the shelter provides U.S. veterans of any era with transitional and affordable housing programs and supportive services -- including counseling, access to health care and job training -- to help them out of homelessness and back to useful, productive lives.
People interested in making a donation, volunteering or learning more about the shelter can visit www.helpaveteran.org or call (630) 871-8387.