Monday, May 21, 2018

#33Stories: Day 21, "The War on Terror: Coming Home," a documentary movie

No. 21: “The War on Terror: Coming Home,” a documentary movie
Context at the end of this synopsis.
Other entries in #33Stories at the Table of Contents. See you tomorrow!

Released in 2011 by The Providence Journal

The first and only feature-length movie The Providence Journal ever made, “The War on Terror: Coming Home” grew from an eight-part series I wrote in 2011 marking the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and the start of the war in Afghanistan, which was later broadened into Iraq. It chronicles the return to civilian life of Army veteran Derek Pelletier and National Guard veterans John DiRaimo, Brian Santos and Sean Judge.

I wrote the script and produced “Coming Home”; it was photographed by John Freidah and edited by Cecilia Prestamo, both formerly with The Journal; and Bob Kerr, a Vietnam veteran and former Journal columnist, narrated. The documentary won a 2012 Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association and was nominated as outstanding documentary in the 35th annual New England Emmy Awards. It was broadcast on PBS and shown at selective screenings.

WATCH “Coming Home”

IMDB listing, for full cast and crew

John DiRaimo, in Iraq.

John DiRaimo, home.

From IMDB.

In the decade since the attacks on Sept. 11th, 2001, more than 6000 American lives have been lost in the War on Terror. Thousands more have returned with psychological damage - forever changed. Leading up to the ten-year anniversary of the War on Terror, The Providence Journal launched an effort to examine the war's impact on veterans and their families. The result was an eight-part series, which ran in the paper and on the web from Oct. 2, 2011, to Nov. 7, 2011, and culminated in a feature-length video documentary about four veterans.

These veterans share stories of their combat experiences and the lives they have led since returning to a civilian world, far removed from the battlefield. Their experiences and the insight of health-care professionals illustrate the human toll of a war fought by a tiny fraction of Americans serving in an all-volunteer military. On Dec.18, the last American combat troops left Iraq, but some 91,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. The war on terror continues. So, too, do the needs of veterans -- and they are growing. Projections show that by the year 2020, nearly 1.5 million veterans of the war will be enrolled in the nationwide VA health-care system, more than double those enrolled in 2011.

In "The War on Terror: Coming Home," Army veteran Derek Pelletier and National Guard veterans John DiRaimo, Brian Santos and Sean Judge describe the difficulties of reentry into civilian life. Massachusetts native Pelletier, twice honored with the Bronze Star, continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. DiRaimo, of Rhode Island, has found help from the Providence VA Medical Center. And Judge and Santos, who served together, have followed two different paths.

It is their voices and personal stories that bring home the aftermath of war, to a public largely removed from the price of a nation at war.

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