Helping the veteran who survived the war survive the peace is the saying of the Wisconsin Warrior Project which wrapped up their two-day summit Wednesday in Madison. The project is an alliance of groups that help veterans return to civilian life and deal with post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is an issue the keynote speaker, Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, knows firsthand.
In a presentation, he told of his journey from Iraq War veteran to college student to filmmaker. At the University of Southern California, he made an autobiographical film called “Now, After.” During the editing stage, he was unsure whether to use the scenes that contained images of bodies and dismembered limbs. Hausmann-Stokes decided to include the graphic scenes, “In the end I think I just so angry at the time it didn’t seem like anyone knew or cared what we had gone through,” said the US Army paratrooper.
Hausmann-Stokes said, after his USC classmates saw the film, “man you could hear a pin drop in there afterwards.” When some classmates were offended that they had not been told about vets’ struggles to readjust to civilian life, he realized the power of using movies to send a message.
“Now, After,” only his second film ever made, is now being used by VA’s, mental health clinics and universities nationwide.
The summit also included a veterans’ panel; and breakout session on homelessness, vets in the criminal justice system, addiction and employment counseling.