Even more tragic is the fact that these wounded veterans’ battle did not end on the battlefield, but had just begun upon their return to American soil as they fight the day-to-day struggles resulting from their war-related injuries. “The fight doesn’t stop when you get home. In our cases, it’s just begun,” says Corporal Jake Schick, one of ten soldiers interviewed for the new HBO documentary, “Alive Day: Home from Iraq.” Moreover, these veterans must fight through a barrage of red tape to get what they need, including the funding that will help make the rest of their lives more manageable.
A large part of this problem is that many Americans are not directly affected by the loss of a loved one in the war, nor do they know anyone personally who has suffered from a war-related injury. Then there’s the media, which, for a plethora of reasons, chooses to focus on the front-end politics of the war, without striking a balance that would emphasize the consequential back-end effects of the war. Not until a Walter Reed manifests does the media rally around the plight of wounded veterans.
In an attempt to bring the back-end of the war home, HBO is premiering its documentary special “Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq” tonight. For those of you who don’t have HBO access, the documentary will be streamed on hbo.com beginning Sept. 10 The website will feature extensive soldier profiles, including personal videos and blogs as well. Produced by three-time Emmy winner James Gandolfini, the documentary about wounded soldiers surveys the physical and emotional cost of war through memories of their “alive day.”
Marine Staff Sgt. John Jones, who was injured in 2005, shares his stories in the HBO documentary, "Alive Days: Home from Iraq"
Gandolfini, who has visited the troops in Iraq on behalf of the USO, interviews ten soldiers who reveal their feelings about their future, their severe disabilities and their devotion to America. Their first-person stories are augmented by harrowing footage from the war-torn streets of Iraq and from embedded cameras in the vehicles of the soldiers. It includes scenes shot when the soldiers were injured, as well as disturbing video of IED (Improvised Explosive Device) bombings released by insurgents. Additionally, soldiers’ blogs, personal home videos and photographs can be read and viewed online.
Meanwhile, Iraq War veteran B.J. Jackson of Des Moines is preparing for his bike ride to help raise money for wounded veterans. Jacskon, who lost his leg to a landmine in Iraq, is participating in the bike-riding fundraiser sponsored by Operation American Spirit, a nonpartisan group that supports wounded soldiers and their families. The group hopes to raise up to $50 million dollars over the next few years, thus addressing their mission statement:
To help make a difference in the lives of soldiers and their families by providing support and funding during and after rehabilitation, in ways that teach them self-sufficiency, including scholarships, job and trade assistance, home modification, and to improve morale.
The 16-day, 1500-mile ride from Seattle to San Diego begins Sept. 22, where Jackson will join other veterans, celebrities, and politicians for the bike ride. Operation American Spirit has become a partner with the “America Supports You” network, a nationwide program launched by the Department of Defense that recognizes citizens' support for our military men and women and communicates that support to members of our Armed Forces at home and abroad.
Originally posted on "Iowa Independent"