Having recently completed my first video – and become aware of the power in it – I found the concept of filmmaking as therapy for PTSD interesting.
With a growing demand for ways to treat the psychological damage of war, one Army pilot project is encouraging soldiers to take control of their own stories in a filmmaking class titled “I Was There Media Workshop.”
The Fort Carson program began last year. Twenty veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have attempted to organize their combat experiences in video as a way to fight PTSD. The classes supplement more-established therapy programs for returning veterans, and the goal is to encourage soldiers to “take control of the things that happened in the past and paint that in a specific way that makes sense.”
An associated press article cites one soldier who made a film “From Hero to Zero” as a way for him to cope with what he describes as a letdown feeling sparked by his pending return to civilian life — which was brought on by a diagnosis for leukemia. The “Hero” refers to his combat experiences in Iraq. The “Zero” depicts him learning about his leukemia and trying to deal with the end of his military career.
Filmmaking as a way to document or cope with the lasting emotional impact of combat is not a new concept. In Los Angeles, ex-U.S. Marine filmmaker Garrett Anderson is making a documentary film with video from pocket digitial cameras that was captured during the November 2004 battle of Fallujah. The 2010 Academy Award nominated “Restrepo,” by author Sebastian Junger and photographer Tim Hetherington, tells the story of a platoon in combat in Afghanistan and its resulting emotional impact on the soldiers.