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Monday, March 13, 2006

Hidden Wounds: A New Combat PTSD Documentary

New England Cable News (NECN) is set to air a new documentary, Hidden Wounds, detailing the struggle of three local soldiers who've returned from Iraq with posttraumatic stress. The program will air on east coast stations starting on the 3rd anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, March 19, 2006. Friday's premiere, which included Sen. John Kerry and former senator Max Cleland, was held at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for details and show times...

Details on Hidden Wounds:

The documentary profiles Nate Fick, a graduate of Dartmouth College who was drawn to public service, and joined the military to test himself in a rigorous way. He was a platoon commander in “Recon,’’ the elite unit of the Marines. He fought in Afghanistan, then Iraq, returning from war in June of 2003. Fick descended into depression for close to a year. To cope, he began writing. His resulting book, “One Bullet Away’’ has been met with wide acclaim and he is currently on tour in the U. K. He is also pursuing graduate degrees at Harvard’s Kennedy school and business school.

“Hidden Wounds’’ also tells the story of Sgt. Russell Anderson of Norton, MA who joined the Army in 1969, right out of high school. He served four years monitoring worldwide communications. He returned to civilian life, but kept re-signing with the reserves. Sgt. Anderson volunteered to go to Iraq in 2004, where he was assigned to a fuel transport unit, because he wanted to continue to serve his country. He returned in February 2005 angry, hostile, depressed, and he resisted counseling. He finally agreed to treatment when he “bottomed out,’’ but he continues to cope with the affects of PTSD.

And, it spotlights Jeff Lucey of Belchertown, MA who joined the Marine Reserves as a high school senior in 1999 to bring discipline to his life. He spent a year as a truck driver in Iraq, returning home in 2003. He drank heavily and became increasingly despondent. His parents tried to get the Veterans Administration to commit him and treat him for post-traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD) but the VA refused to do so until Jeff Lucey stopped drinking. He committed suicide at age 23. His parents are now activists trying to ensure adequate funding for PTSD treatment.

Senator John Kerry and former Senator Max Cleland (along with many other distinguished guests and speakers) attended Friday's premiere. From the Harvard Crimson:

“The first definition of patriotism back here at home for all of us is to keep faith to those who wore the uniform for our country,” [Sen. John] Kerry said. At the event, Kerry introduced a new funding push he is making in Congress to allocate $100 million to Veteran Centers for the screening and treatment of PTSD.

[Former Senator Max] Cleland, who lost both legs and half an arm in 1968 when he was serving in the Vietnam War, took the stage with Kerry before the screening. Cleland said that while he dealt with the physical wounds, for a long time, he was unaware of the “hidden wounds” of PTSD. He said that he was now in the kind of counseling which he should have sought out “ages ago” and stressed that PTSD is a legitimate diagnosis.

After the projection of the documentary, several veterans and military officials addressed the forum about PTSD. Kerry’s Swift boat comrade Del Sandusky, whom Kerry calls his “brother,” spoke among them. “PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s something that we can’t control,” Sandusky said.

Kerry and Cleland are far from the only people working hard to protect veterans health; in the face of Bush administration underfunding of the VA, many Democratic leaders continue to speak out for what's right: honest and quantifiable support of our troops.

If you're fortunate enough to live in the NECN broadcast area, you can catch Hidden Wounds at the following dates and times:

  • Sunday 3/19 10:00AM and 7:00PM
  • Monday 3/20 8:00PM
  • Tuesday 3/21 11:00AM and 3:00PM
  • Wednesday 3/22 7:00PM
  • Thursday 3/23 2:00PM
  • Friday 3/24 4:00 and 10:00PM>
  • Saturday 3/25 6:00AM and 8:00PM
Take a moment to thank NECN for their efforts at getting more to understand the plight of those troops coping with PTSD. And if you're not in the viewing area, other movies have been made which deal with the topic of combat related PTSD.


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