STILL BEATING HEARTS is a drama about a quadriplegic veteran of the Vietnam War who struggles to find value and meaning in his life.

Charles Johnson has big plans: go to Vietnam, earn money for college and provide support for his mother and brother. But his platoon is ambushed and in trying to save his comrades he is wounded in the base of the neck, unable to move. He arrives at a military hospital in Texas and gets the final diagnosis: quadriplegia, total and complete. He is angry and bitter and refuses to see his family. He wants to spare them the pain of seeing him helpless, and is loathe to burden them with his care. As much as he would like to withdraw from the world, Johnson cannot escape company. Luther Fuller, a platoon member whose life Johnson saved—and is now a double leg amputee himself—has accepted his own injuries with grace and tries to help Johnson do the same. Susan Bowman, wife of comatose Lt. Robert Bowman, frequents the ward and is determined that her husband will regain consciousness and return to her. After speaking with Susan, Johnson has a sexual fantasy and is forced to confront the reality that this part of his life is over. He begs Fuller to kill him, but Fuller refuses.

In the midst of this, there are others on the ward wrestling with their own demons: Alfred De la Pena, a foot amputee with facial laceration who shows signs of Post Traumatic Shock Disorder (PTSD), and Frank McIntyre, arm amputee. With the others, they form a family that tries to help each other using banter, humor, consolation and encouragement. In the end each person must confront his or her own fears of what going home really means, and Johnson must decide whether or not his life as a quadriplegic still has purpose and worth, or whether it is better to die.

The play was written from the playwright’s own personal experience with wounded veterans from Vietnam and Iraq. While it is set during the Vietnam War, the devastating impact of war on the lives of those who live through it is as true in Iraq and Afghanistan today as it was then.
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