“My primary care doctor has over 1,200 full-time patients…” Vince Emanuele goes to the VA

Vince Emanuele, featured in Walking Wounded, just got back from a four hour appointment at the Veterans Administration (V.A.)… he writes:

“1) My primary care doctor has over 1,200 full-time patients. You know, another one of those lazy government employees…

2) Many veterans act like assholes at the V.A. and treat employees like scum. Yet, the majority of V.A. employees are also vets…

3) According to the doctors, nurses and therapists I spoke with today, not much has changed at the V.A. over the last several years, regardless of what Obama and the rest of the bozos in office have to say.

4) Pills are still being handed out like candy — always have been, always will be. Big Pharma loves the V.A.

5) At least 95% of the vets I encounter at the V.A. are pre-9/11 vets.

6) Without the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans, tons of vets would be neglected and left untreated.

7) The folks at the Mental Health Clinic said that a lot of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been coming in since ISIS has been in the headlines. They said that a lot of vets are asking, “Was it worth it?”

8) Two older women told me that they love the Women’s Clinic. For obvious reasons, they don’t like being constantly surrounded by male veterans…

9) There are a ton of black veterans who are not being properly serviced in Lake County. Why? Because cities like Gary are completely neglected and forgotten, not only by the federal government, but also by various veterans organizations.

10) It’s been almost ten years since I was discharged from the Marine Corps, and just now, in 2015, is it okay to badmouth the wars. As Leonard Cohen once said, “Everybody knows.” Today, everybody knows Iraq and Afghanistan were farcical and disastrous. Back in 2006, people at the V.A. used to look at me like I was nuts when I told them that I was embarrassed to be a vet. Today, they get it.”

23,000 people have lost their lives since 2000 as a consequence of European “immigration” policies: European Filmmakers raise their voices

While “The European Union is spending up to twenty times more money on border control, than on welcoming centers for refugees […], [We] strongly believe, that we as filmmakers are obliged to speak up, especially in times, when yellow media fuels xenophobic sentiment and human rights are disrespected.” This filmmakers’ petition has reached over 3,000 signatures. The goal is to reach 5,000 until the end of this week and present the appeal on Saturday September 12 during the closing ceremony of the Mostra di Venezzia International Film Festival. Below is a link to the “Appeal.”

“Every day, people fleeing war, terror, political persecution and misery are drowning in the sea, suffocating in the back of a truck or tumbling to their death in ports or train stations in their desperate attempts to reach Europe. According to Amnesty International, more than 23,000 people have lost their lives that way since 2000. These deaths are a direct consequence of E.U. immigration policies. The guilt doesn’t just lie with the traffickers; Europe cannot deny its share of responsibility. To make matters worse, those who reach Europe often find themselves in degrading living conditions and are subjected to inhumane treatment. The European Union is spending up to twenty times more money on border control, than on welcoming centers for refugees.”

Shocked by the events of the past decades, years, weeks and hours, that finally took the current humanitarian crisis right into the heart of the European Union, Austrian producer Ursula Wolschlager and Belgian documentary filmmaker Nathalie Borgers have started an initiative calling on European film professionals to raise their voices concerning the current situation.

Treating and not criminalizing: that’s not crazy!

Mental health needs to be treated, not stigmatized, or worse, criminalized. Anyone who would take that statement as “crazy” would probably be perceived as… crazy! Because that’s common sense: mental health needs to be treated, like, veterans are welcomed, supported, and listened to.

“I have seen and done enough horrible things to last me a lifetime” said Jeffrey M. Lucey to a family member after he came back from the war. In March 2008 Joyce and Kevin Lucey, his parents, spoke at the Winter Soldier Afghanistan and Iraq. Anyone who has seen the footage on IVAW’s website will remember their immense courage and strength as they became over the years, among the most powerful advocates in raising awareness about the human cost of war, and what they refer to as the “hidden wound” or “cancer of the soul” often known as PTSD. “Our fear was that he would be physically harmed, said Joyce Lucey. We would have never imagined that an emotional wound could be lethal.” Lance Corporal Jeffrey M. Lucey had committed suicide less than a year after he came back from Iraq.

If more people are definitely aware today, there is still a very long way to go until veterans get the attention they deserve. “My child was struggling to survive, said Joyce Lucey in 2008, and we did not know who to turn to. We had no guidance. We hear a lot about supporting our troops, but I’ll tell you, we felt isolated, abandoned, and alone. While the rest of the country lived on, going to Disney Land, shopping, living their daily life, our days consisted of constant fear, apprehension, helplessness while we would watch this young man being consumed by the cancer that ravaged his soul.” Isolated, abandoned, and alone… While it is not “crazy” to dream of a society where veterans would be decently, concretely and humanly supported, as well as there relatives, the lack of support is killing veterans across the US more than seven years after Jeff’s parents and hundreds of others began to speak out. Veterans continue to be overrepresented in the homeless population of America. It is not incidental that most of them have a mental and/or physical disability (54%). In January 2014, communities across America identified 49,933 homeless veterans during point-in-time counts, which represents 8.6 percent of the total homeless population (National Alliance to End Homelessness. The State of Homelessness in America, 2015.)

Well… when I claim that the “lack of support” is what kills veterans (and not “PTSD”…), I should probably begin to fear my own craziness. Because even that, might be a crazy understatement when, in fact, very often, instead of being properly treated, “craziness” gets criminalized. Today I received Robert Greenwald’s “crazy” note about the last three-part film series that he and Brave New Films produced: “More than half of all suspects shot and killed by police were suffering from mental illness—this is crazy, writes Greenwald. And over 300,000 Americans in prison today have a mental illness diagnosis. You see it almost every day in the media now: confrontations with people that have mental illness and the police—and far too many times these encounters end with death. Or, mentally ill people find themselves in a totally abusive and dysfunctional prison system, instead of getting the appropriate care they so desperately need.”

While it is not “crazy” to dream of a society where veterans—especially the ones who deal with the emotional wounds of war—would be decently, concretely and humanly supported, is it “crazy” to dream of a society where mental health is treated and not criminalized? Who is “crazy” and what is “crazy” here?

From the Luceys to other beautiful encounters that made Walking Wounded possible, I vividly remember the Iraq War veteran Lisa M. Davis’ invaluable efforts to bring attention, within the Chicago Police Dept. where she works, to the need of having police officers properly trained to interact with veterans in crisis during interventions. Treating and not criminalizing. Like Lisa, most veterans know what that means. And that’s not crazy at all. Hopefully.

Jeff & Kevin drawing Walking blog1

 

Jeff’s “last harbour:” his dad, Kevin Lucey, rocked him to sleep one last time on the night before his death. Drawing by Maël.

 

Wendy Barranco advocates for deported veterans

How many are they? It is difficult to know. At least 3,000 and possibly as many as 30,000 according to the organization “Banished Veterans.” They are members of all branches of the U.S. Military who serve or have served the U.S. and face deportation or have been deported, especially to Mexico. Born in Mexico and a protagonist of Walking Wounded, Wendy Barranco is a U.S. naturalized citizen and veteran who was deployed to Iraq as a combat medic at the age of 19. She recently traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, where she conducted interviews for an ethnographic research project. The United States need to hear about these vets. Raise questions, break the paradigm of the good/bad immigrant. The goal is to get them home. Currently they are working on getting medical treatment because they are dying of easily treatable illnesses like TB and others.

The organization is Deported Veterans Support House, currently under Veterans for Peace 501(c)3.

Wendy Barranco pour Télérama

Walking Wounded, Uncut Stories from Iraq: Olivier Morel (bio)

A scholar and a filmmaker, Assistant Professor Olivier Morel (Film, Television, & Theatre, University of Notre Dame), is French and American and lives in the United States. Most of Morel’s academic work focuses on the correlation between trauma and fiction, trauma and creation. This dimension is also embodied in his cinematic work as well as his creative writing. He is the author of “Visages de la grande guerre” (Calmann-Lévy in 1998) and numerous exhibits based on this work with photographer Didier Pazery.

In 2010, Morel completed a feature-length award-winning documentary film with Zadig Productions titled “On the Bridge” (ARTE). In his graphic novel titled “Walking Wounded” (NBM 2015) initially published in France (Olivier Morel & Maël, “Revenants,” Futuropolis-France, 2013, “Die Rückkehrer” Carlsen-Germany, 2014) Morel depicts a director who is in the process of making a film about US Iraq War veterans and their struggles to remain alive when then return home.

He has published a book on Berlin as literary capital (PUV, 2014) and made a documentary film for ARTE titled “Germany Narrated by Its Writers” (2014). Morel is currently working on film projects and he is completing a web-documentary for the international TV channel TV5.

Watch “On the Bridge” on VOD.

War-related trauma ignited Vince’s political consciousness

 Emanuele, an Iraq War veteran (US Marine Corps), is a protagonist of Walking Wounded. He recently published a piece in Znet: “Over the last nine years, people have routinely asked, “How did you become politically conscious and actively engaged?” […] After all, I wasn’t raised in a political household, nor were my parents counterculture radicals or hippies. […] Often, personal struggles and trauma ignite political consciousness […] my political awakening came via my experiences in the military. […] Right around the time I was coming home from my first deployment, my friends were coming home from their first year at university. During this period, I was first introduced to Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut, William S. Burroughs and psychedelics. […] I returned home, radicalized, angry and committed to changing the world.” “War and Culture: Becoming Politically Conscious”, by Vince Emanuele: https://zcomm.org/zcommentary/war-and-culture-becoming-politically-conscious/

 

Veterans’ PTSD turned into a gut-wrenching, beautiful song

“Lately it’s occurred to me, it’s hard to fight an enemy that lives inside of your head./Spend my life in between the sleepless nights and the bad dreams, think I might rather be dead…/I’m trying to find my way home. […]/ Somewhere between lost and alone, trying to find my way home.” “Trying To Find My Way Home,” music and lyrics by Iraq War Veteran Jason Moon, featured in the documentary film “On the Bridge” and in “Walking Wounded” (NBM, 2015).

Jason’s songs in “On the Bridge” and here. Jason Moon’s non-profit “Warriors Songs.”Jason Moon guitare low def 2012