Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Soldiering on

“Winter soldiers,” a term coined as a result of a 1776 writing by Tom Paine, describes people who stand up for the soul of their country, even in its darkest hours:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Thus, it is fitting that winter soldier is also the name of a documentary filmed at an event of the Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2008. The resulting film, “Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan,” was screened at APHA’s Annual Meeting this morning, part of the meeting’s many film and technology sessions.

In the film, former servicemen and women describe, in brave detail, their experiences during and after their military services. With raw emotion on display, they took on torture, sexual harassment, veterans’ health care services, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide attempts.

Their anger, disappointment and shame shone through as they told filmmakers about picking up the pieces of their lives after the military failed them. Several veterans described the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment (the so-called “suck it up and drive on” mentality) — a mentality so powerful that many servicemen and women stay silent for fear of destroying their careers if they were to admit to suffering from PTSD or depression.

Perhaps the strongest voices speaking out against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are those who were there and can articulate the human tolls they personally witnessed and suffered. Let them tell you about it themselves — video segments of “Winter Soldier” are available online.

To find more APHA Film Festival events, check your program for "Film and Technology" sessions.

— P.T.

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