The Patton Veterans Project is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to help veterans, and others coping with post-traumatic and service-related stress to improve their mental health through filmmaking.
We achieve this by holding collaborative filmmaking workshops at military bases, veterans hospitals and clinics, and qualified community facilities. We also promote education and understanding around military and veterans issues through film sharing and community dialogue. We hold collaborative filmmaking workshops designed to give participants a sense of agency and ownership over their own life narrative. They have an opportunity to craft a film as visual expression of their military experiences.
At top: Lesson Learned is a film from my 2nd workshop. I was able to collaborate closely with two mid-20s soldiers, joined together by this workshop. They had a few young kids at home and wanted to use their toys to tell this story of giving back.
I started teaching with Ben Patton and IWT a few years back, but every workshop is a memorable experience. You can read more about them on their website. They have created over 300 films with soldiers across the country.
I have been lucky to work with the patient, discerning minds of fellow instructors, and every session with the soldiers gives me more respect and gratitude for the country I live in. I am a born American, a New Yorker, but also the son of immigrants who came here educated, prepared, and with a lot of luck. Grateful to these heroes who sacrifice so much in service to our country. But I have also been surprised and struck by the Community that exists in the army bases and small towns. There are people who really believe in their families, in themselves; they trust each other, and there's a sense of growing together but also being ready to dismiss feelings for action when the moment calls for it. I've never experienced such duty personally but am awestruck and respectful of it. I was given a Military coin by a three-star General on one of my workshops, it's meaning is slang and formal depending on which soldiers you ask. But simplest, it means, he's a man of merit and he's with me. I have kept it polished and close, a symbol of pride ever since.