I Was There

Program Director and instructor at the I WAS THERE film workshop Jeanette Sears(right), helps Private John Velis(left) and Staff Sgt Aaron Ziegler(center) as they start filming a short film they are calling Invisible Heroes about one soldiers life from military service to homelessness. The workshop is for active duty and retired military to help participants deal with PTS.

A nonprofit initiative which uses filmmaking to help soldiers and veterans, and recently hosted a workshop at Fort Hood, is launching a YouTube channel to showcase its participants’ work, the organization announced March 1.

The Patton Veterans Project initiative, I Was There Films, was founded by Ben Patton, grandson of World War II Gen. George S. Patton, and teaches therapeutic filmmaking techniques to service members dealing with post-traumatic stress and other service-related stress, and gives participants a chance to write, film and edit their own films.

The short films created through the project’s free workshops now will be featured on the YouTube channel “I WAS THERE Film Workshops.”

More than 30 of the workshops have been hosted at military installations across the country since 2011, involving more than 800 service members who have created more than 300 films through the project.

Last month, 30 Fort Hood soldiers participated in one of the four-day workshops on post, creating films delving into a variety of topics, including homeless veteran awareness, to women’s challenges in the military, letting go of personal demons, a film about being a superhero as a soldier, and a comedic look at expectations of the military verses reality.

“The workshop was fantastic. I think that all of the participants enjoyed their time ... Many of them made films they were passionate about and everyone was enthusiastic about the process,” said workshops director Jeanette Sears.

Staff Sgt. Murray Outlaw, with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, was part of a group which focused on sexual assault as the theme of their short film during last week’s workshop.

Outlaw said the filmmaking process offered the opportunity for participants to share and hear many different perspectives.

“It’s mainly talking and putting your views to someone else to see what they think, so people get a better understanding of different people’s life outlooks and aspects of their life,” he said.

For more information on the project, go to iwastherefilms.org.

jcjones@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7464

Contact JC Jones at jcjones@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7464​

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