Help tell the story of Iraq veterans


I stumbled on an interesting film project, to tell the story of Iraq veterans readjusting to life in the U.S. after duty in Iraq. On this day after Veterans’ Day, you may be looking for ways to honor vets. Donating to the completion of this movie is one way. You be the judge.

The film’s working title is “Reserved to Fight,” focusing on one of the first Army Reserve units called to duty in Iraq, and what happens to four of the members of the unit upon their return. The unit is Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines, whose home is Salt Lake City, Utah. The film’s director is Chantelle Squires, a film student at Brigham Young University. Film production classes there are generally top-notch. The project will be well done, and the content should be compelling in almost any production.

We need not wait for a latter-day Clint Eastwood to chronicle these events 50 years from now, as he has done for veterans of Iwo Jima in the film Flags of Our Fathers(See my earlier posts here, and here.) I hope to see more efforts to record this war’s history, in any medium.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Utah Boy.

6 Responses to Help tell the story of Iraq veterans

  1. […] to Fight” closer to PBS broad cast Last year I stumbled onto information about a film on the readjustment problems of Army Reservists after their return from service in Iraq and Afganistan — well, Iraq is the focus of the […]

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  2. A couple of weeks ago I attended the screening for the documentary. Just a refresher – it follows four vets from Iraq & their difficulties in readjusting to society. I think it will be a real eye opener for civilians. It will be aired on PBS this fall. Hop over to my blog – http://jbchristensen.wordpress.com for my post regarding the screening.

    A comment for Mrs. Kriste Dieziger –

    After the screening of the film there was a Q & A session. Many of the questions dealt with how friends and family members can help those that are dealing with PTSD. The responses were interesting and telling. A person that works with the VA said we need more money, programs, resources, etc. A Viet Nam vet that was there said “call me – we will be there to help.” I don’t have his number, but I’ll try to get it & see if he can put you in touch with someone local to you that can be a support for you and your husband.

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  3. Mrs. Kriste Dieziger says:

    July 21, 2007 – Saturday

    My Iraq War Veteran
    Current mood: affable

    To whom ..t may concern,

    ..’m wr..t..ng th..s document because .. am e..ther unable to personally attend a meet..ng where .. can convey th..s concern or because .. want you to be able to attach th..s ..nformat..on ..n my words to certa..n processes, ..n part..cular the request for med..cal ret..rement for my husband ..s apply..ng for. You may also be rece..v..ng th..s message because .. have reached out to you v..a ema..l or the ..nternet concern..ng our problems or .. am attempt..ng to educate and ..nform concern..ng the ..ssues of our sold..ers return..ng from war and the..r lack of care and concern.

    S..nce my husband returned from h..s tour ..n ..raq, he has been unable to demonstrate even the most bas..c affect..on or any k..nd or s..ncere ..nt..macy, not just towards me but also towards h..s ..mmed..ate fam..ly or fr..ends. The mood sw..ngs he suffers from can be profoundly deep and last for days. .. can not say that my husband was a ” soc..al butterfly” before he went to ..raq, but he had a wonderful sense of humor, enjoyed go..ng out for card n..ghts w..th our fr..ends or bowl..ng e..ther as a date for ourselves or usually on a league. Now he can barely stand to be ..n a room w..th more then three people for any length of t..me.

    More often than not, K..rk cr..es out ..n sleep and as ..f someone ..s chas..ng h..m; he runs ..n bed. There have been a few t..mes when .. have tr..ed to share our mar..tal bed w..th h..m only to be woken up w..th h..m on top of me, obv..ously asleep, bark..ng orders at me to ” take cover” or ” p..ck ..t up, p..ck ..t up, keep mov..ng”. On many occas..ons h..s fla..l..ng arms and legs have ..njured me, but that along w..th the severe snor..ng and sleep apnea he developed wh..le be..ng ..n ..raq we have to keep separate bedrooms.

    K..rk knows that us..ng the C-Pap mach..ne he was ordered by doctors to use w..ll help h..s sleep apnea and h..s severe sleep..ness dur..ng the day. However, we have tr..ed everyth..ng we can th..nk of to help h..m become comfortable wear..ng the gear at n..ght and he st..ll manages to rub or knock ..t off h..s face dur..ng h..s sleep.

    S..nce h..s return from ..raq he, for the f..rst t..me ..n h..s 14.5 years ..n serv..ce f..nds h..mself unable to wake up and ..t has caused h..m to be late or sleep through h..s duty ass..gnment or t..mes. .. have learned not to try to wake up my husband as ..t usually ends ..n me be..ng phys..cally ..njured. Because of th..s and the sleep apnea he’s developed wh..le ..n ..raq, we as a nearly newly wed couple have been unable to share our mar..tal bed for nearly three years now.

    K..rk returned w..th absolutely no sex dr..ve and cont..nues to have l..ttle or no ..nterest ..n ..t. He has told me that he s..mply cannot stand be..ng touched by anyone and has no ..nterest ..n touch..ng anyone else. Though he has pulled away from any ..nt..mate relat..ons he has become obsessed w..th pornograph..c mater..al of a part..cular type and has spent a cons..derable amount on sa..d mater..al.

    H..s counselor on post Dr. Funkhauser has adv..sed that .. don’t ..nterrupt the t..me he spends on h..s computer play..ng sc..-f.. fantasy games. The doctor adv..sed that ..t ..s h..s only source of release and that .. should allow h..m as much t..me as he feels he needs. K..rk spends 12 to 14 hours at a t..me play..ng these computer games. .. feel that ..t ..s unhealthy but h..s counselor assured h..m ..t was a safe outlet and he should embrace ..t.
    After h..s return from ..raq K..rk has become obsessed w..th food. .. have found food
    “Stashed” all through out the house. H..dden ..n drawers, under the bed and ..n the tops of closets. He eats ..n h..s sleep ..t appears. .. bel..eve that th..s ..s from the med..cat..on he ..s on because he has no memory of eat..ng at n..ght. As..de from that though, he hoards food ..n our home and ..n our car and can become enraged ..f you try to take ..t away. A horr..ble event occurred when .. gave some food from our pantry to a needy fr..end. ..t was as ..f .. had betrayed h..m ..n an unforg..vable way for g..v..ng away food.

    Due to h..s compuls..ve eat..ng then saddled w..th h..s phys..cal ..ssues he ..s unable to exerc..se wh..ch ..s adversely affect..ng h..s health and h..s ab..l..ty to perform h..s job ..n the army. .. am conv..nced that th..s ..ssue ..s be..ng caused by the med..cat..ons he must take for the mental health ..ssues that have been caused from h..s tour ..n ..raq
    However regardless of why the we..ght ga..n cont..nues the add..t..onal we..ght w..ll cont..nue to be a destruct..ve factor adversely effect..ng the damage to ..s back and h..s knees for the rest of h..s l..fe.

    My husband has always handled our f..nanc..al respons..b..l..t..es and because of my own health ..ssues .. am unable to take over. .. have recently d..scovered that many of our debts are not be..ng attended to and we beg..n each month on an average of $500.00 ..n def..c..t.
    We rece..ve our tax refund total..ng over 1000.00 and ..t has been spent w..th no cred..ble explanat..on as to how. .. bel..eve that my husband’s mental health ..ssues are prevent..ng h..m from be..ng able to make sound f..nanc..al dec..s..ons for our fam..ly.

    W..thout d..scuss..ng ..t w..th me he recently took out a car t..tle loan w..th a local company that charges 23% a month! The veh..cle he used the t..tle of take out th..s loan ..s our only mode of transportat..on and ..f we lose ..t we w..ll have no way of be..ng able to replace ..t now cons..der..ng our cred..t ..s ru..ned because of h..s poor judgment. S..nce h..s return from ..raq he has not been able to keep a current l..ne of car or home ..nsurance.

    One of the more d..sturb..ng problems ..s K..rk has stopped bath..ng. He has h..s ha..rcut, shaves h..s face and washes h..s hands, per..od. ..n recent months wh..le task..ng for the SGM of h..s company, the SGM not..ced h..s lack of hyg..ene and reported ..t to h..s ..SG. The ..SG ..nformed K..rk’s ..mmed..ate ..n the cha..n of command and he was counseled. Th..s has not changed anyth..ng he has not bathed or taken any more ..nterest ..n h..s env..ronment at home.

    .. bel..eve that h..s complete lack of ..nterest ..n hyg..ene of just not h..s body but also of our quarters and the housework began ..n October of 2006. .. have h..red someone to take over the care of our quarters and of the housework of our home. .. have done th..s because of my severe d..sab..l..t..es and because we have no fam..ly ..n our area to help. .. bel..eve that on some level K..rk ..s st..ll ” there”. ..n h..s m..nd he ..s st..ll at war and as..de from h..s ..mmed..ate needs, he has no forethought or concern.

    ..n October of 2006, even though K..rk had just been d..scharged from a 10 stay at a secured mental health ward and w..th h..s object..on, h..s command ..ns..sted that he attend a three-day course at a l..ve f..re range. Though he was not allowed to handle a weapon, not that anyone could have stopped h..m ..f he had wanted to p..ck up a weapon, he was forced to spend three days l..sten..ng to l..ve f..re from many d..fferent types of weapons. ..t was after that he stopped bath..ng and tak..ng care of our home.

    He plunged ..nto a severe deeper depress..on and h..s mental health med..cat..ons have had to be ..ncreased three t..mes and add..t..onal med..cat..ons added to h..s reg..ment. K..rk was unable to attend Thanksg..v..ng and Chr..stmas fest..v..t..es. Other than attend..ng work, wh..ch ..s a struggle for h..m, he does not leave the house.

    K..rk’s ab..l..ty to concentrate has been greatly effected. He was once someone who could remember deta..ls concern..ng a meet..ng nearly to the m..nute and word for word. Now K..rk ..s unable to shop for and complete a shopp..ng l..st desp..te us go..ng over ..n deta..l moments before he leaves for the store. He cannot take a l..st of four ..tems from me and go from the l..v..ng room to the k..tchen and retr..eve all four ..tems. At best he may be able to br..ng back two, usually ..t ..s only one ..tem.

    .. have tr..ed everyth..ng .. can th..nk of and the only reason .. can get h..m to leave the house for other than work ..s to take me to my doctor’s appo..ntments. When .. suggest we go to a fr..ends house to play cards he w..ll p..ck a f..ght w..th me to avo..d hav..ng to go. He shows no ..nterest ..n any of h..s former hobb..es. He ..ns..sts that .. only have v..s..tors to our house wh..le he ..s at work. .. know that th..s ..s because he cannot tolerate hav..ng guests for any length of t..me. There have been t..mes when .. have had a fr..end come from out of state to v..s..t w..th me and K..rk rema..ned ..n h..s room dur..ng the ent..re two-day v..s..t.

    ..n the month K..rk was ordered to part..c..pate ..n v..rtual real..ty tra..n..ng where he had to handle a ” dummy weapon M-16″ where he was to f..re upon ” the enemy”. When my husband told me that he had been ordered to do th..s .. had a horr..ble feel..ng of forebod..ng to what behav..or th..s event would spur. As .. suspected the depress..on, the ..ntense mood sw..ngs, ..nab..l..ty to tolerate soc..al..z..ng, obsess..on w..th food and the outbursts at n..ght dur..ng h..s sleep has become more ..ntense.

    .. called Sgt. Delaney who ..s the person who ordered h..m to part..c..pate ..n the v..rtual real..ty tra..n..ng to ask why he would order a sold..er whose permanent prof..le restr..cts h..m from weapons and ammun..t..on to part..c..pate ..n th..s program. H..s response was that ” ..t’s a just a b..g v..deo game and ..ts not l..ke ..t’s real anyway.”

    Even ” ..f ” Sergeant ..:namespace pref..x = atbhl />D..ez..ger d..d have the PTSD th..ng ..t’s just a game.”” ..ts my job to make sure the sold..ers get the..r tra..n..ng and unless ..’m told by the 1SG to exclude h..m he tra..ns l..ke everyone else.” .. asked h..m ..f the 1SG knew that K..rk had a no weapons on h..s permanent prof..le and he sa..d, “well he must, he ..s h..s sold..er.”

    .. spoke w..th Sergeant Delaney about K..rk’s ..ssues and my concern about h..s needs not be..ng addressed by h..s command to protect h..s needs. Wh..le we d..scussed K..rk’s s..tuat..on and the subject of h..s lack of hyg..ene the sergeant told me “You’re h..s w..fe, make h..m take a bath” .. told h..m, S..r, my husband ..s a full grown man, .. can not make h..m do anyth..ng. He repl..es w..th ” gu..lt h..m ..nto ..t” ” embarrass h..m unt..l he does”
    ” Well what do you want me to do about ..t? Do you want me to come to h..s house and make sure he washes h..s hands and feet?”

    .. told h..m that .. felt he was be..ng ..nsens..t..ve and not do..ng h..s job by tak..ng care of h..s sold..er’s needs and he ended our conversat..on by say..ng that he was leav..ng for TDY the follow..ng week and that K..rk wasn’t go..ng to be h..s sold..er anymore and to contact another sergeant about these ..ssues and that ..f he had t..me he would ment..on our conversat..on to the 1SG.

    My husbands already frag..le mental state ..s aggravated on a da..ly bas..s by those he works w..th and for ..n the army. Aggravated by be..ng held to a standard that he ..s ..ncapable of ach..ev..ng and ma..nta..n..ng by those ..n h..s command who are obv..ously ..gnorant or uneducated about the ..ssue of hav..ng Post Traumat..c Stress D..sorder and the devastat..ng effects ..t can have.

    After h..s return from ..raq, h..s co-workers and those ..n h..s command have shown at best an affable att..tude towards h..s l..m..tat..ons and true needs and concerns. Our Chapl..n, when .. f..rst contacted h..m about K..rk’s cond..t..on suggested, ” perhaps what ..s wrong w..th your husband ..s that he ..s grown t..red of you”, and that .. should try to “sp..ce up our marr..age” by attend..ng one of the rel..g..ous courses about marr..age he offers.

    Each person .. have contacted ..n my husbands command concern..ng the ..ssues that are affect..ng our fam..ly about K..rk’s cond..t..on after be..ng ..n ..raq have responded w..th noth..ng as..de from be..ng crass, patron..z..ng and ..nsult..ng. ..t was at that t..me .. completely understood the hopelessness my husband was try..ng to expla..n to me about feel..ng that he had absolutely no support or camarader..e w..th..n h..s command.

    When .. tr..ed to expla..n to one of h..s ..mmed..ate ..n command .. was told that K..rk was hav..ng problems wak..ng up and be..ng able to stay awake after he began a course of mental health med..cat..ons and that perhaps he should be g..ven a more cler..cal pos..t..on unt..l he had made an adjustment. H..s response, wh..ch was completely out of context and ..n my op..n..on was ..ntended to be crass, was ” well ..’m not go..ng to let h..m go home and take a nap every day”.

    Other conversat..ons w..th those ..n h..s command told me ” Look Ma’am, .. was over there too and ..ts not l..ke he was really ..n the f..eld or one on one combat, he was ..n the rear w..th the gear. Sgt D’s problem ..s that he just ..sn’t mot..vated enough and ..’m go..ng to f..x that, rest assured.”

    “You’re husbands problem ..s that he ..s lazy. He has the class..c prof..le of a loafer, uh .. mean an unmot..vated sold..er. There ..sn’t anyth..ng wrong w..th h..s back or h..s knees and as far and th..s PTSD th..ng, (long s..gh) all that ..s a loafer, uh .. mean a unmot..vated sold..er’s compla..nt to get out of work.”

    ” PTSD ..s a garbage pa..l d..agnos..s for a sol..der to get out of the..r contracts w..th the army. Both my w..fe and .. have been to war and seen some pretty awful stuff but ..t has never kept e..ther of us from report..ng to our po..nts of duty.”

    .. was told by the 1SG that .. was not to contact h..m. ..f .. had any concerns or felt that .. needed to tell h..m someth..ng to call h..s w..fe, who ..s also act..ve duty w..th her own command and w..th one except..on, was too busy to talk to me e..ther.

    ..n the last four months .. have called and left mult..ple messages for a return call for both the commander Capt. Keller, 1SG Denz..ne and our Chapl..n. None of those calls have been returned. ..nstead of return..ng my call 1SG Denz..ne pulled my husband ..nto ..s off..ce and told h..m to stop me from call..ng h..m or the commander anymore.

    Every agency or person .. have contacted for help has ended poorly. .. contacted the hous..ng control company agency P..cerene for help and ..nstead of offer..ng me any suggest..ons for ass..stance, they contacted K..rk’s 1SG. That resulted ..n K..rk be..ng called ” on the carpet” by the 1SG ” and be..ng embarrassed about not be..ng able to control h..s household. Be..ng embarrassed about ..t, K..rk deferred the blame and told h..s 1SG that h..s w..fe was over react..ng so the 1SG told h..m to get h..s w..fe under control and stop me from call..ng h..s off..ce or ..ns..st..ng these ” meet..ngs”.

    .. am far from be..ng a d..sgruntled w..fe. .. am ded..cated to my marr..age and to my sold..er. .. am terr..f..ed to what our future holds ..f the med..cal d..scharge board doesn’t f..nd 100% ..n h..s favor and grants our fam..ly all the benef..ts ava..lable. Be..ng that we are now both severely d..sabled and unable to prov..de any form of ..ncome or med..cal coverage and w..th the current level of care .. see be..ng offered to my husband .. felt compelled to wr..te th..s statement and prov..de to every agency ..nvolved ..n h..s, my husbands, med..cal and adm..n..strat..ve care.

    September 5, 2007 – Wednesday

    He gave his mind and body for this country…Now what?
    Current mood: pissed off

    So, tommorrow my soldier will finally get his final formation for his retirement. Hey its only been three months since he retired! I wonder what kind of tribute they would be paying him if we hadnt settled in the immediate area of his last duty station. Okay now Im going to “rant” a bit. This man has given 15 years to the army, three tours overseas in war zones and not once has ever been in trouble, not even ever threatened with a article 15…and for all of that and the fact that he laid his mind and body down for this country, literally, he was medically retired as a air traffic controller for the army because after coming back from Iraq he has PTSD so bad that he couldnt do his job, his devastating injury to his back and knees, oh, thanks for going over there and giving it your all, now we are going to as unceromoniously as possible evict you from the army, take away more than 2000.00 of your pay,wait three months before we even ackowledge you were in the army and then all we are going to give you is a army accomodation medal, which is kind of like getting the yearly, ” hey we appreciate you and your work” you’d get for being at any job come Christmas…no bonus just …hey thanks…Oh but the good news is you now qualify for food stamps!

    So far we have gotten three appointments for his VA intake and three cancelations. Social Security sends us a letter that says, we got your information but we have a huge influx of requests for benefits, we will get to you eventually!

    Meanwhile, using the child support calculations and his current pay for the last three months his kids have gone from over 700.00 a month in support to 33.00! Its not just us that suffer! Can you image being a mom that has a now senior in high school and a freshman and have to take that kind of pay hit??? Like his daughter screamed at me over the phone, how am I going to get my school clothes?? It’s not fair to them either! Its my job to stick by my man but Im facing a very serious illness of my own now and Im being told I have one year to get this disease turned around or I am in hard core trouble. He cant take a job for two reasons. One we cant afford to hire someone to come in house and take care of me. Im bed bound most of the time and secondly his mind is so blown with PTSD for being at war for this country. SO, what do we do? well we keep trying to reassure that ex wife and those kids, we are working on it and we keep making those phone calls to VA and Social Security.

    My soldier still isnt bathing. We have lived in this crappy rental for nearly three months now and he is still taking “whores baths”. If you dont know what that is, if youre military info stunted. This is where your soldier goes to the sink and washes his face, his pits , his crotch and his ass…hopefully in that order. This not washing his body or soaking in a tub started after his was ordered to a firing range despite the fact he was on profile for weapons and ammunition. Well we dont want you handling it and dont want to hear about how you cant handle being around live rounds being fired…just get out there and keep count. As a wife who loves her husband and would like to have a normal sex life…lack of hygiene stunts that.

    He still screams out in his sleep and has asked me to be a filter between him and the world because he says he cant handle it. So, everyone has to talk to me and I tell him the important stuff that I cant handle. When I say everyone I mean everyone. Even his own parents and immediate family. He cant handle even talking to his own kids on the phone. This is becoming more and more of a challenge for me as my days with this megloblastic pernicious anemia eats at me. Ive lost 60 lbs since Feburary, I have little energy and less strength. My body is melting away and patience with it. I love my man, I worship my soldier but I’m not being taken care of because he lives in his ” room”. I feel horrible about his condition but when its just you and your severely effected VET, you get kinda pissy when its been four days and one hot meal would be a blessing. Lord Im sick of cereal. We cant afford to hire anyone and Im just sick, sick and freakin tired.

    So, Sgt Dieziger…thank you for showing up at work everyday even though you screamed all night in your sleep,thank you for making sure everyone around you got thier paperwork on time,thanks for all the hours you stayed late at the office to get all those DD what ever forms Spc Fubar needed because he got drunk and got a DUI, oh and thanks for showing up and bailing out all those so they wouldnt have to face the humilitation of thier wives, girlfriends,company commander, thanks for showing up at every Hey we need a volunteer to …move someone …wash a car…sell baked goods…visit families and thier newborns in hospital…sit with families and thier soldiers in hospital…Thanks for staying late and showing up early so your commander wasnt embarrassed when they didnt have thier shit together for the training meeting…thanks for all the very long hours you have sat and listened to young new soldiers and thier families so atleast they felt like someone cared.

    Thanks for serving our country and laying down your mind and body now could you just quietly disapeer and let the rest of us off the hook? We are tired of seeing your blood shot eyes pale skin and grown out beard. We need you to slip away and stop reminding us that any of us could be you at any moment. Let us keep beating our chests and prostating our meager war cry. Get off post and stay there. Your one hundred mile stare is no longer welcome here.

    So, what Id love to know is …where are all those ” angry americans” , “patriots” or ” dont you remembers”? I hear you screaming…Leave no man behind! What all of you arent getting is even when we manage to get them home alive and not in those hard silver steel coffins with our countrys flag drapped on them,they are just as dead. Inside they are just as dead, mobile corpses are what many of them are. Have we not learned our lessons from our Veterans? Our country is again being filled with a generation of mobile corpses!

    You can contact me at 334-598-0007

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  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks for the update. I’ve been thinking about Iraq veterans a lot the past week — Bob Woodruff’s book is out, on his recovery from traumatic brain injury, and Martha Raddatz has a new book on the insurgency in Iraq, casting a warm glow on our troops.

    Keep us posted — and do we need to write our local PBS stations to ask for broadcasting?

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  5. Just an update on the documentary. There are going to be two versions of the film. One will be edited for a theatrical release, the other one edited for a TV (PBS) release. An initial screening was presented to the original director & staff. It went well and the film is on track for release & distribution very soon.

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  6. Thanks for picking up on my blog. The post production work will be finished next March, but the production company is hoping to raise another $130,000. If they can, they will take the film and some of the soldiers in the movie on a road tour to do a reachout program, presenting the film to high school students.

    Any donation no matter the size will be greatly appreciated.
    UtahBoy

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