The executive producer of the documentary Iron Will; Veterans Battle With PTSD, which will be released this fall, talks about the film that portrays soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What sparked your interest in doing this documentary?
A couple of years ago we had worked with the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies on a PTSD research project, utilizing virtual reality immersion therapy as treatment for veterans battling PTSD. We learned a lot about the unmet needs of our veterans, as well as the need for collaboration.
What surprised you once you started filming?
There are so many incredible veterans who are suffering each and everyday. The invisible injury makes it challenging to recognize and often their pain is overlooked by many.
Billy Bob Thornton is the narrator. How did you get him?
Both of our producers, Tim VandeSteeg and Zac Adams, had worked with him previously on other projects.
PTSD is so closely associated with the military. You have soldiers telling their stories. What would you like for civilians, like you, to take from the movie?
It is important for everyone to understand that there are millions of people all around the world battling PTSD, which is not a disorder, but an injury. It is vital that the universities, researchers and nonprofits not only collaborate, but share information. We (civilians) must insist that our veterans are treated swiftly and be provided the means and access to the very best treatments and services available. We must all get involved. Raising awareness is good, but not enough. We must act, support the nonprofits that are currently providing treatments and services and work with leaders to see that each veteran is evaluated individually.
Talk about the people behind-the-scenes of this project. What did they bring in terms of expertise and guidance?
A lot. Besides initiating the project, they’re the driving force behind the film. Tim VandeSteeg and Adams are both award-winning filmmakers, who have each produced and directed several documentaries over the past decade. Our director, Sergio Valenzuela, is a veteran who served our country for 13 years, so he has a unique connection throughout the interviews with veterans. This is his directorial debut.
The public will be able to see Iron Will in November right on time for Veterans Day. Obviously not a coincidence. What other connections to the military do you hope to establish or support?
Our plan is to host Iron Will special screenings all around the country as well as to do the film festival circuit. We want to release Iron Will in honor of the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country. We plan to engage nonprofits who provide PTSD treatments and services to Veterans via our Iron Will Global Give campaign.
What do you want people to take away from the movie?
If you fall and break your arm you would have a specific diagnosis, and course of treatment. Many with PTSD are misdiagnosed, left untreated and pushed to choose their own coping mechanisms.
What are the goals for Iron Will after the movie?
The release of the documentary will be the launch for the Call-To-Action; the Iron Will Global Give campaign, which will engage select nonprofit organizations from around the country that provide PTSD treatment and services to our veterans. We will grant them Iron Will GGN coins, they will seek donations and they will keep the proceeds.
Are there any plans to extend into research and support programs?
Yes, absolutely. On behalf of Iron Will, WagTree will identify public / private partnerships for PTSD research and support. We are in the process of identifying several nonprofit partners, as well as universities, corporations and other entities committed to PTSD evidence-based research.
Where do you see Iron Will making the biggest impact?
Saving lives of veterans who are in the midst of battling PTSD.