'Invisible' veteran wounds to be highlighted in IRSC student film
By Jessica Tuggle
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- The red, white and blue flag that represents the land of the free and the home of the brave can move some to shed proud tears and others to action.
Veterans are often hailed as heroes for their service to this country, but the masses often have no clue the sacrifices and life-changing events that happen during that service.
Rick Wood of Fort Pierce is a combat veteran who served in operations such as Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and later served in the U.S. Army reserves, worked as a civilian for the military, and later worked as a journalist at a military base.
He is currently a film student at Indian River State College and is preparing to film a 20-minute dramatic short film in Fort Pierce and Vero Beach based on some of his life experiences.
"Tideline" follows the life of Nicole Young, a former military police captain turned therapist, working with a troubled veteran with thoughts of suicide, Mr. Wood said.
"Our intent is to start the conversation. If we can get folks talking about these things openly, we stand a good chance of possible helping veterans out there who struggle with their own experiences," Mr. Wood said in a press release.
Mr. Wood said after he returned to the U.S. from his tours of duty, he noticed he had classic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder: difficulty concentrating, reoccurring dreams related to combat experiences and anxiety in crowded areas.
"I still have to sit in the back of restaurants and face out, in the direction of the entrance," Mr. Wood said.
Casting is currently underway and filming is expected to be in full swing by May. Locations that will appear in the film include Fort Pierce and Vero Beach.
"It's both difficult and cathartic to dive into the subject matter of the film. Post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of comrades, survivor's guilt and suicidal feelings are hard things to think about even if you have no connection," he said. "But here's the thing. The majority of deaths in the military each year don't come from the battles in the wars we are fighting. Suicide is the number one killer in the military. That's a huge thing when you look at it."
Mr. Wood was 19 when he returned from combat in 1991.
"It took a long time to digest some of what I'd seen and things I had done. I'm still working on it," he said.
Mr. Wood and his filming partner, Micah Bolen of Port. St. Lucie, want the film to bring veterans issues to the forefront while at the same time convey a message of hope.
The film will portray potential real-life situations and reactions. In addition to addressing post traumatic stress disorder, the film will also address the issue of women in combat and sexual assault overseas.
"Women are more likely to be sexually assaulted in a combat zone than to be injured or die from enemy action," he said. "Behind the camera, I get a chance to tell this story, share these ugly and difficult things. In a way, I get to let go of some of that baggage by doing so."
"We want veterans to know that these aren't their invisible burdens to bear."
For more information about the film, visit http://tidelinefilm.weebly.com, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tideline-The-Movie/493570597356177, or