Burden of Freedom: Raising awareness of military PTSD through film

Burden of Freedom: Raising awareness of military PTSD through film is now in the development and funding stage


MENIFEE, Calif., July 26, 2015 – Actor Kyle Hester is taking his career one step further, combining his acting and set experience to produce “Burden of Freedom.” Hester plays a lead role in the movie as well. Hester, who is known for his role on the web series “The Resolve” and spent time building sets for “Wipeout” and “Team America,”  says the objective of the movie is to raise awareness about military personnel and others who suffer PTSD.

“PTSD is personal for me. I have friends suffering with this currently and also that have lost the battle. It is vital that awareness and support for these men and women is in the forefront. I believe we can do this through film.” Kyle Hester has said in media interviews for the film.

In “Burden of Freedom,” Hester plays  U.S. Army Capt. Brian Daniel. Daniel is a former officer of the famed 101st Airborne Division and led his men during the fierce Battle of Najaf in the war in Iraq.

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The movie is about the difficulty he faces when he returns home. Daniels must battle PTSD along with other difficulties, such as a home suffering from the neglect of an absent owner and the injuries he sustained during combat.

Coming home with Daniels are the horrific wartime memories that caused his psychological trauma.  In an all too common story, this veteran becomes frustrated with just making ends meet, despite his hard-work ethic.

His father, whom he contacts for help, assists him in finding work in the film industry.

Meanwhile, Daniel’s childhood best friend and brother in combat, former 1st Sgt. Lance Harrison (Peter Murnik), also experiences tragedies of life after combat. These include chronic pain, psychological trauma, financial struggles and significant hardship.

Harrison disobeyed Daniels’ orders during combat, ultimately causing a permanent separation from the 101st Airborne Division for them both because of their injuries sustained in the action. The dynamics between Daniels and Harrrison leave viewers wondering if the friendship between these heroes can sustain the trauma of their experience in the war theater.

Studies conducted by RAND, Center for Military Policy Research indicate at least 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or depression and 50 percent of those with PTSD do not seek treatment. The half that do seek treatment get only “minimally adequate” treatment.

Moreover, other studies from the Congressional Research Service and National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study suggest the actual number of those impacted are much higher than reported.

Those who suffer from PTSD are plagued with symptoms that vary from flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression and avoidance of people or places to feelings of suicide. Military and veteran suicide has been on the rise to the point where a bill, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, was recently passed.

It is designed to protect those who have served and to ensure the Veterans Administration (VA) is evaluated annually by an independent third party on mental heath care and suicide prevention programs.

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It also holds the VA accountable to Congress with regular updates of all mental health programs offered.

Another aspect of the Act directs the VA to update its Internet site at least every 90 days with all mental health services available to veterans.

The act consists of two pilot programs. The first is repayment of “education loans relating to psychiatric medicine that are incurred by individuals who: are eligible to practice psychiatric medicine in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) or are enrolled in the final year of a residency program leading to a specialty qualification in psychiatric medicine; demonstrate a commitment to a long-term career as a psychiatrist in the VHA; and agree to a period of two or more years of obligated service with the VHA in the field of psychiatric medicine.”

The second is “not less than five Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) to assist veterans transitioning from active duty and to improve the access of veterans to mental health services. Requiring a community oriented veteran peer support network and a community outreach team .”

“Burden of Freedom” is currently in the funding stage. To aid our military, veterans and others who face the challenge of PTSD, support for this awareness campaign can be made through the purchase of T-shirts and dog tags and donations by going to the Burdens of Freedom website.

If you or someone you know needs helps, please contact the VA Mental Health Group

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Rebecca L. Mahan is a retired law enforcement and Field Training officer who has spent more than 20 years studying domestic violence, working with victims of traumatic events and offers services to victims via her firm, The V.O.T.E., Victims Overcoming Traumatic Events, Program www.voteprogram.org Mahan is a columnist, author and host of The V.O.T.E., Victims Overcoming Traumatic, Program" radio show. She has degrees in Church Ministry, Occupational Studies - Vocational Arts including her masters in Biblical studies. She is currently enrolled in a Doctorate of Philosophy of Theology program. Mahan has used her knowledge and training to write V.O.T.E.: Victims Overcoming Traumatic Events for use by patrol officers.