The VAF’s second Podcast

Listen to our second podcast as I interview Matt Mack, a combat veteran from the early days of Iraq.  He was blown up by a suicide bomber in a car and lived to tell the tale.  Hear what it’s like to survive and recover from a bombing.

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Screenplay: SATIN FIST

I’m attempting to attach a downloadable PDF file of a screenplay.  It’s based on PTSD, DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), and revenge.

It’s called Satin Fist, which is a play on the old Iron Fist type films.  Please feel free to download it and feedback’s welcome.  We hope someday to produce it locally or in Hollywood.  It’s a second draft, so it’s a bit rough around the edges.martial art movie

The stigma needs to be removed…

Veterans, Cops, and other people in stressful jobs find it hard to admit they’re having problems.  The main reason is dealing with the Stigma that comes with admitting mental illness.

I was an infantryman for 4 years with the Stryker Brigade in Alaska.  Infantry is full of alpha males and people who want to be perceived as mentally and physically tough.  I was guilty of heaping some scorn on a fellow soldier for coming to terms with his issues.  I thought I was tougher and less likely to suffer PTSD or other mental health issues.

It wasn’t because I was tougher, I’d say.  I was just calmer and rational about violence and stress.  That was just in the moment, however.  I tended to become emotional and angry after.  I’ve been in fistfights, bar fights, and altercations since Iraq.  I’ve also been recalled in the military after being out for 2 years.

What changed my life for the better was realizing the problems I was having and becoming proactive.  I’d accidentally fell into the vet center through a friend.  It took years of work and medication to calm me down and put me on the right path.  The Vet Center helped me form this nonprofit and set goals.  The VAF’s where I want to work and create for the rest of my life.

There are a number of resources for veterans.  I’ll highlight the Vet Center today and more later.   Active duty military have a hard time finding them or getting involved.  I was lucky, but the word needs to be spread.  Here’s a video and a link to the Vet Center homepage.  They’re confidential.  While under the VA, they’re not required to share information.

http://www.vetcenter.va.gov/

New Path?

The other day for the first time in at least 15 years, I felt peace. It didn’t come from a person, thing (though the iPad helps), but a place.

It wasn’t a church, where I expected it to come from, but a small yoga studio in town pushed me towards where I needed to be. The studio sits near the ferry to Gillette’s Castle in East Haddam, CT. It looks like an apartment building and probably is some sort of co-op.

When I walked in that night, the dim lights, waterfall, and eastern music just took the edge away immediately. Martial Arts, therapy and regular exercise had never done that before. It was intense to say the least.

I’ve changed, my life’s changed since then. Not for the worse. I hope at least. My girlfriend of four years and I will go our separate ways. She to LA and I am headed to school. The anger’s left us for the most

I attribute the change, at least some of it, to that day. For the better, I hope. I’ve seen my dreams of becoming a cop dashed and need to refocus on writing and film.

FPS: Black Ops and Veterans Day

I was invited into my friend’s middle school social studies class. I helped her lead discussions on war, veterans, and Geo Politics. The kids were wonderfully behaved.(I only had a couple of ‘did you kill anyone’ questions). They we inquisitive and intelligent.

However, the most frequently asked question dealt with the video game Black Ops. Don’t get me wrong, I love hay game and it’s quite fun. They wanted to know if war was like game.

It’s not. The screen doesn’t go red when you’re hit in real life. You fall down, screaming if you’re lucky. I’ve seen it up close, and it isn’t pretty. It ooleaves you scarred. There are no scripted battles either. In modern times, you rarely can differentiate friend from foe.

I didn’t bash the kids for the questions, if was them, I would ask the same thing. Video games are wonderful and actually good for teaching. The Army even uses them for recruitment. (Americas Army). We would come in from missions and play Halo 2 when I was over there.

It’s important not to confuse entertainment and reality. Sometimes they’re close like Saving Private Ryan, but even those films have Hollywood elements to them. War is tough, emotionally and physically. It doesn’t have a reset button or save points. We need to educate the young and ignorant and make them realize the difference.

Anger

Whistle-blowers, corruption, news articles, police interrogations, and intrigue were among the issues I dealt with this week.  Until we can get enough money to work full-time on the foundation and pay our bills, we have to have day jobs.

My day job takes me to Waterbury every morning.  Waterbury, CT is known far and wide for it’s political corruption.   I clean up litter, a glorious occupation.  Often times, the populace confuses me with community service.  “What’d you do to get this punishment?”  Or “Where does community court meet up in the morning?”  Are typical comments.

One of the employees for the Blight Program got fed up with our Waterbury Development Corp boss and demanded a transfer.  The request set of a chain of events culminating in the resignation of our boss, the transfer of a police officer in charge, and media attention.

In the past week and a half, I’ve been interviewed by three detectives and thrown under the bus per se, in the local newspaper.  I made it no secret, I didn’t like our boss, but as a temp employee, I wouldn’t get involved with removing him by myself.   It looks like our group is part of the problem and corrupt itself.  This is untrue.

Being dragged through the mud and trying to watch out for our group, has been taking it’s toll on me.  I haven’t been able to sleep well.  However, my lack of anger towards the Whistle-blower surprises me.

I feel for him. He’s a drunk, no question and lives a terrible lifestyle, but blames others.  I’d caused some of his ire, trying to help and he tossed our group aside like nothing.  He acts like nothing happened and everything’s okay.  I cannot for the life of me get angry at this man.  I take my lack of rage to be a sign of my self improvement through therapy, the Vet Center, and the Art Foundation over the past couple of years.  No longer do I look for conflict and my road rage has subsided greatly.  I wouldn’t say I’m happy, but far from a rage-a-holic.   Improving one’s life takes time, something we don’t always have patience for.