Sam Pressler and Brian Jenkins

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headshots of two men.

Photo courtesy of Armed Services Arts Partnership

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Founding Director and current Executive Director of Armed Services Arts Partnership

In 2013, when Sam Pressler was an undergraduate, he came to a profound understanding of the civilian/military divide and the sobering realities many veterans face when they return to civilian life. Based on his own experiences of coping with loss, he thought comedy might be a way to help returning veterans cope. Since there weren’t any comedy classes for veterans, he started one—partnering with an existing writing group. From that one class, the idea of Armed Services Arts Partnership (or ASAP) grew and flourished. Located in Hampton Roads Virginia and the Washington, DC area, ASAP has reached close to 1,000 veterans, service members, and their families through over 200 workshops and classes. It’s also produced 150 performances of its graduates—including shows at the White House—and reached some 15,000 audience members. Sam Pressler—who recently stepped down as executive director and now sits on the board of ASAP—and the current executive director Brian Jenkins tell us how ASAP came together and grew into a thriving and beloved organization and what they’ve learned about community, veterans, and the arts. It’s a great story.

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