Iraq War veteran Scott Castle of San Mateo participated in a film project about coping with post-traumatic stress disorder. He lifts weights.
A new website is officially launching this Veterans Day to engage the public with veterans’ stories, including one of a San Mateo resident.
Scott Castle, who graduated from San Mateo High School in 2002 and currently lives in San Mateo, served three tours of duty with the Marine Corps in Iraq and was one of the first to participate in the nonprofit Veteran Documentary Corps’ veterans film projects. His seven-minute film documents how he turned to weightlifting to help cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We all come back with a little something,” Castle said. “Ever since I exited the military I had a close relationship with the Veterans Association. We all struggle with it daily, but it’s something I am getting treatment for.”
Run by Daniel Bernardi, director and professor in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University and a veteran of the Iraq war, the site was born out of the idea that most people seemed uninterested in the wars the United States was engaging in for a decade. Filming for Castle’s video took place last year.
“I came to the conclusion that we were eroding our democracy by divorcing our professional military from the people they signed up to protect,” he wrote in an email. “You couple this with the horrific number of suicides and it seemed to me that were in a state of collective unconscious. I had access to film studios, a sound stage, equipment and, most of all, an amazing cadre of filmmakers. So I married professional filmmakers with courageous vets in an effort to tell the veteran story.”
Castle, who served in a front line unit from 2002-2006, is currently a freelance grant writer and jumped onto the film project soon after he graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in technical and professional writing.
“It was a good experience,” said Castle, who began weightlifting during his second tour in Iraq. “It was raw and changing on the fly. I was glad to participate in the project to just get awareness out there for veterans. It was very cathartic.”
Long term, Bernardi is hoping the films will have a positive effect on both the veterans who come home and want to hear true stories and the public they served. Bernardi agreed the process seemed cathartic to the participants.
“In the short term, though, I think we’ve had a positive impact on the vets that have had the courage to tell their stories,” he wrote in an email. “They want people to know the truth of their service in all its pain, suffering and honor.”
The beta site launched several months ago. This is a long-term project supported by San Francisco State University, specifically the Documentary Film Institute. Bernardi hopes to raise enough money in donations and grants to produce hundred of these documentaries, along with documentaries on veterans from other countries. They are currently making one on an Iraqi veteran still in Iraq.
For more on the project and to view the films, visit veterandocs.org. Scott’s film was featured in the 2012 S.F. Veteran Film Festival. Veteran Documentary Corps was founded in 2011.
The Avenue of Flags Committee is presenting the annual Veterans Day Observance Nov. 11 outdoors at the Golden Gate National Cemetery, 1300 Sneath Lane in San Bruno. “A Tribute to Veterans” is the theme of this year’s program. A musical prelude by the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Band of the West starts at 10:30 a.m. and the program begins at 11 a.m. with Kathy McCall, cemetery director, serving as master of ceremonies. Following the event, the public is invited to a luncheon at the American Legion Hall, 757 San Mateo Ave. at Huntington Avenue, in San Bruno. The luncheon is $8. Proceeds benefit the Avenue of Flags Committee. To RSVP, call 355-5533 or email email@example.com.
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