“One of the most important documentary films being made at this time.”
~ Ron Kovic, Vietnam Veteran, Peace Activist, and Author of ‘Born On The Fourth Of July’
by Ken Smith
There are hidden wounds soldiers have always experienced upon returning home from every war- this documentary will shed Light and Healing on these many issues through the Voices of Veterans and their Families.
Nina M. Gilberti
“Not to him who is offensive to us are we most unfair, but to him who doth not concern us at all.”
This documentary seeks to give veterans and their families a Voice ~ an opportunity to share their stories, express their feelings and speak directly to America.
Everyone who returns home from war and military service are changed forever, some end up coping better than others. Many return with undiagnosed issues only to surface later, as they continue to battle an enemy of a different kind.
Suicide rates among today’s veterans is staggering.
And the path towards homelessness is never straightforward or immediate.
The film will not only feature the homeless veteran, who is clearly visible on the streets and ignored, but will also speak to the mental & emotional ‘homelessness’ that is often invisible and locked away inside many returning soldiers resulting in the loss of the person they once were.
A statistic on the VA website read: “one-third of those living on the streets served in the Vietnam war.” Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gulf War vets who are homeless, may not be visible ~ many live in their cars or couch surf, living from one friend’s apartment to the next.
Americans tout, ‘Support Our Troops’, but when it really counts there isn’t much being done after the return home to help the veteran ~ except by the non-profit, veteran organizations, who must also fight a battle every year to raise the necessary funds in order to survive.
What happened to our consciousness as a nation when we ignore those living on the streets, as well as those whose lives have been altered physically, mentally and emotionally so we might live free?
We need to wake up and step up to do something positive, to share in the responsibility as Americans, and to help create a real difference in the lives of those who gave us so much. They put their lives on the line so we can enjoy the freedoms we all take for granted.
It’s time to give back.
It is my hope, through the making of this film, to inspire a nation to care, to generate real compassion, and perhaps create a movement towards profound Healing and understanding.
This project is currently filming through the end of February 2012.
The director is inviting veterans who served in any era, and family members who wish to share their story for this film to please email her at [email protected]
For more than twenty-five years Ken Smith has been a leading advocate for veterans. A combat Vietnam veteran, Ken served during 1971-72 as a paramedic and an infantry squad leader with Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, in the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. After his discharge, Ken continued his work as a paramedic in New England. On the streets of Boston he encountered growing numbers of homeless Vietnam veterans, and he became determined to both assist them and draw attention to their plight.
In 1989, Ken founded the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, located in a former VA hospital at 17 Court Street in downtown Boston. One of the first facilities designed for homeless veterans and now a national model, the shelter has served over 35,000 of America’s veterans who, for whatever reason, find themselves living on the streets.
In 1992 Ken was awarded Point of Light #142 by President George H. W. Bush, and later that same year received the AMVETS Silver Helmet Award, considered the “Oscar” for American veterans. As one of America’s foremost veterans service organizations, AMVETS (or American Veterans) has a proud history of assisting veterans and sponsoring numerous programs that serve our country and its citizens. Ken was awarded this honor along with Peter Coors, with whom he still maintains a personal friendship.
Over the years Ken has appeared on many national media programs including Good Morning America, Prime Time Live, ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN, 60 Minutes, and The Geraldo Show. He has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and numerous international newspapers, magazines, and websites. In 1992, Ken had the distinction of addressing both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions as a keynote speaker on the subject of veterans.
Ken recently left his last assignment with the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, where he was the chief technology architect of the Veteran’s Vocational Technical Institute, Purple Heart Car Donation program, Purple Heart Call Center, Purple Heart Radio, Purple Heart Tech Support, Purple Heart Services, and over thirty new Purple Heart websites. Ken Smith provided the vision and has overseen the implementation of innovative, virtual, work-at-home training programs for veterans with combat disabilities. Ken has designed, upgraded, and supervised the integration and installation of Purple Heart Service Foundations computer and telephony systems, upgrading features from legacy POTS phones to SIP-trunked communications systems including establishing new VPN networks for teams of remote virtual employees.
An adventure sports enthusiast, Ken enjoys extreme skiing, competitive sailing, flying, and travel. He has traveled extensively worldwide, delivering his positive message to the veterans of other countries that a paraplegic veteran of the United States suffers the same as a paraplegic veteran of India; that an amputee veteran of Nepal suffers as much as an amputee veteran of France. Ken’s mentor was Harold Russell, the two-time Academy Award winner who starred in the 1946 film Best Years of Our Lives. A World War II veteran, on D-Day, June 6th, 1944, Harold lost both of his hands. This ghastly misfortune did not stop him, and he went on to become the chairman of the President’s Committee for People with Disabilities. For over fifty years he served US presidents from Truman to Clinton. Ken was humbled and grateful when Harold agreed to serve as the best man at Ken’s wedding.
Ken has been instrumental in the planning stages for the Veterans Workshop, a new nationwide veterans’ advocacy group building a new “Veterans Hotline, and the development of special programs for those who have lost their sight or their hearing, or who have suffered spinal cord injury, as a result of their military experience. The Veterans Workshop provides a forum where new technology and advancements in the fields of prosthetic and orthotic solutions, many designed by Ken, are shared along with virtual training and employment programs.
A 1970 graduate of De La Salle Academy in Newport, Rhode Island, for the past twenty-five years Ken has continued his education with extensive college courses in computer technology and related social service fields. He resides in his native state of Rhode Island with his wife and children.