Veterans Need Our Help from the “Trauma” of War

We’ve all seen the heartwarming video clips of soldiers arriving home to emotional reunions with their families and friends. But the hard truth is that many veterans face a wide range of challenges when they return to civilian life.

I found this out while co-producing “Trauma,” a recently released documentary on Amazon and iTunes about a Blackhawk medevac platoon that served in Afghanistan. Our director, Harry Sanna, had unfettered access to the realities of the Afghan War, seen from a medic’s point of view.

It is our obligation to support, encourage and mentor our veterans. They have made a difference for our country— and they will make a difference for your agency, too.

Harry spent several months living and flying alongside the crew, filming daily life on base and during missions. He shot interviews and harrowing vérité coverage showing the heroism of the guys as they flew into battlefields to save the lives of our wounded soldiers. The footage was incredible—like nothing we had ever seen before.

Then the men went home. And we decided to follow them. For four years we supported Harry as he traveled across the country, reconnecting with the subjects in the film and capturing their ongoing stories.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are currently 18.5 million veterans in the United States.

This allowed Harry to build a very comprehensive picture of the long and often treacherous transition from soldier to civilian. I truly believe the resulting film is important to everyone who seeks to understand more about veterans and/or PTSD—whether partners, family members, friends and colleagues or health professionals, policy makers and social analysts. We’ve had people thank us personally because the film let them understand what their spouse had gone through and still can’t speak about.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are currently 18.5 million veterans in the United States. Of those, seven million veterans are aged between 18 and 64 and are in the labor force. Perhaps even more salient for businesses, there are 1.6 million veterans younger than 35.

One of the biggest challenges for all the subjects in the film is that it’s hard to reconcile the incredible sense of importance of the job over there with the life back home. Veterans find themselves trying to reproduce or replace the sense of purpose that their life-or-death missions created. Meaningful employment is one step along the path to that adjustment.

These veterans are highly skilled and trained for mission-critical operations. This is a talent base that is motivated, educated and tech-focused. Given the right opportunities they are great assets for any team—but finding opportunities is still a challenge.

There are various initiatives to help veterans obtain jobs in advertising. The Association of Independent Producers (AICP) has partnered with various veterans groups to offer fellowship opportunities with production companies and others in the membership, which have led to employment for veterans. Another organization, Veterans in Media & Entertainment, unites current and former members of the military working in the film and television industry.

Some advertising agencies and production companies are known to hire veterans. But while large advertising agency holding companies have attempted to create traction in hiring veterans, few formal programs exist to take advantage of their diverse skill sets and capabilities.

We work in a demanding and rewarding industry that requires a diversity of skills combined with grace under pressure. Unlocking the talents, energy and focus that veterans possess will be a victory for agencies and, most importantly, their clients.

It is our obligation to support, encourage and mentor our veterans. They have made a difference for our country— and they will make a difference for your agency, too.

 

 

David Gaddie

Founder at The Colony
David Gaddie is the founder of the film production company The Colony, which is based in New York. He is an award-winning director of hundreds of television commercials and branded content for numerous clients.

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