Next week Tampa Bay is set to host a massive convention dedicated to the U.S. Special Forces.
As industry leaders and veterans make their way to town for the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, one former Green Beret is taking the opportunity to share his story of healing through storytelling.
What You Need To Know
- Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Scott Mann served as a Green Beret for 15 years
- After his service, he says storytelling helped him work through his mental struggles
- A movie based on his play “Last Out: The Elegy of a Green Beret” will be screened for the public for the first time on May 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the Tampa Theatre
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Scott Mann stays pretty busy these days.
“This is Rooftop Leadership headquarters," he said while walking through his office. "We are a leadership training company."
After serving 23 years in U.S. Special Forces and 15 years as a Green Beret, he and his wife started a nonprofit called The Heroes Journey.
The organization helps veteran tell their stories and find their voice.
Down the hall in his office, there is a room he calls “The Last Out Room” with a "Wall of Honor."
It came about from his own mental health struggles after leaving the service.
“Some of them died doing what I asked them to do," Mann said. "It took me to a really dark place to where I was standing in my closet holding a .45 pistol."
He said he found healing through storytelling and used his newfound voice to wrote the play “Last Out: The Elegy of a Green Beret.”
His play features the "Wall of Honor" in his office.
The play was turned into a film, and with the end of the war in Afghanistan, more memories have been added to the wall.
“I wouldn’t say that my character Danny Patton is me, because he’s not," Mann said. "He’s a composite character based on three Green Beret team sergeants that didn’t make it home."
However, there is plenty in the play and on the wall that are his stories.
“He’s basically my guardian angel in the play,” Mann said as he pointed to an old photograph of himself and a fellow service member. "Cliff was killed 10 years later in the Pentagon."
By telling his story and looking at the wall, Mann pays tribute to his fellow soldiers.
“I remember him and think of his smile and optimism," he said. "He’s not here anymore. I think of Romy Camargo who is a Tampa Bay resident. Shot through the neck with a Taliban bullet.
"Now that the guns have gone silent, who is going to tell his story? Who is going to tell Tom’s story? Who is going to tell Mark Delgado’s story, a young PFC from Tampa who was killed in Iraq. That’s our job."
Mann said he hopes that by encouraging veterans and families to tell their stories, others can have an emotional connection to the challenges of war.
“Yes, some of it’s hard," he said. "But it’s the stuff we lived and those experiences need to be shared with the country so we can learn from them and hopefully our kids don’t go down the same path we did."
“Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret,” is being screened for the public for the first time on May 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the Tampa Theatre.
Admission is $25 and all proceeds go to help organizations supporting veterans and their families after service.