I recently watched the preview for a short film by Mark D. Manalo, called "Present Trauma." As a veteran I felt it looks like an amazing depiction of what it can be like for a veteran coming home. The film has been recognized on many occasions as being a phenomenal work of cinema art, for which I applaud Mark. But I view this film through the eyes of a veteran. A veteran who is very involved in veteran organizations. A veteran who has undergone Applied Suicide Intervention Training to assist other veterans in need. A veteran who understands veterans. I wonder, will the general public understand what Mark is trying to say.

Many veterans do in fact go through this kind of "present trauma," but I'm not sure if a film like this is coming at the right time. Much of our current culture towards veterans in not very positive. Television shows constantly depict veterans as ticking time bombs. I recall a specific episode of "Bones" during season 9. The writers of "Bones" are usually very good at depicting veterans, as their main character, Sealy Booth, is a veteran now serving in the FBI. In the episode an ARMY veteran commits a murder and is unable to recall the events. This is problematic because it insinuates veterans are not in control of themselves.

What we need to identify to society, many of whom will assume the danger of being around veterans is real and substantial, is that veterans are more often than not, good fathers, good mothers, loving spouses, and want nothing more to become a "needed" part of society again.

Veterans are coming home with memories of things that civilians can not imagine nor can the veterans describe them, and many times they don't to. Most are not interested in medication that numbs their life and leaves them awake and empty. The idea of "suffer in silence" and "be a strong soldier" do not fade away upon separation. When you meet a veteran, the best thing you can do for them is to be a friend. Someone they can talk to... if and when they want to.

This "The Power of 1" video, sponsored by the Veterans Crisis Line, reminds us just how important one interaction can be. Veterans are a part of this world, as are their traumas. Maybe we need more videos that encourage the general public to embrace them, not avoid them.



AuthorJustin Rigdon