By Staff Sgt. Katie WardJune 26, 2014
FORT EUSTIS, Va. - The U.S. Army is known for loyalty, honor, courage and integrity -- values that each and every Soldier must possess to "Stand Strong" and help create a more resilient force.
That was the encompassing message portrayed to the more than 250 Fort Eustis service members, civilians and families who attended the afternoon performance of the 2014 U.S. Army Soldier Show held at Jacobs Theater, June 23.
The Soldier Show is the Army's Broadway-style touring entertainment troupe, and the shows at Fort Eustis were just two of 56 scheduled performances for the 2014 season. The performances included tributes to 9/11, the Army Birthday and Gold Star families who lost family members during conflicts.
Through this year's theme, "Stand Strong," the performers aim to highlight pertinent Army topics, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Carter, Soldier Show advanced logistics coordinator.
"The performances send a message regarding things that impact Soldiers today," said Carter. "Sexual assault and suicide are destroying families and the military. We hope Soldiers can take away that important message as they experience the show, and how those things impact family and friends."
For Spc. Enjolee Williams, a Soldier Show performer, the various performances communicate insights to issues and circumstances people may experience as a result of the military lifestyle.
"The Soldier Show has evolved to really highlight how life is as a Soldier and what it's like to be in the Army," she said. "There's obviously the military side, but there's also a human side as well. It's a musical production of life in the military, whether it's the Soldier or their family members, and people who may not have an idea of the Army life can walk away knowing some of what Soldiers and their families go through."
Now on her second tour with the show, performing for Fort Eustis Soldiers is an aspect of Williams' Army career that has come full circle. As an aircraft structural mechanic, she passed through the curriculum at the 128th Aviation Brigade in 2010 and saw her first Soldier Show as an Advanced Individual Training student at Fort Eustis.
"It's very surreal being the one on the stage now," she said. "It has changed my life completely, because I can give my fellow Soldiers an opportunity to relax through the performances and show them we are Soldiers just like them. No matter how difficult rehearsals are or what may happen when we are setting up a show, at the end of the night, the people who come see us make it all worth it."
Staff Sgt. Antoine Buckner, a wounded Soldier with Fort Eustis' Warrior Transition Unit, said he attended the show because he greatly enjoyed a previous season's performance.
"This is the second [Soldier Show] I've seen, and it makes it easier to hear those types of messages when it's said through song," said Buckner. "You can relate to it better because they're Soldiers like you. The show was outstanding; who knew there were so many talented, musically gifted people within the Army?"
The intent of the show is centered on the idea of "Entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier," and Carter said he feels the music and dance can help fellow Service members spread the message of "Stand Strong" and continue to support a resilient Army.
"We hope when Soldiers see the show, the message touches them and they are able to see how serious some of these issues are," said Carter. "We also want them to go back to their units and express these same messages, because the military is small, and if these messages are taken from location to location, they can reach the whole force."
For more information on the Soldier Show, or to audition, visit http://www.armymwr.com/soldier-show.aspx