Documentary Reveals Untold Stories of War on Terror Veteran Families

AP Photo

The Weight of Honor is a groundbreaking documentary that reveals the untold stories of the family caregivers of those catastrophically injured servicemen and women who returned from the battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“People need to know about them,” said filmmaker Stephanie Seldin Howard, who spoke by phone with Breitbart Texas. “These selfless individuals are the unsung heroes, caring for our veterans who returned against insurmountable odds.”

The Weight of Honor is a labor of love from Howard, a veteran TV news journalist who has spent the past four years working on this documentary. To bring this vision to life, the producer launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to complete the final phase of this important film.

It profiles these post-9/11 military veteran caregivers, revealing the never-before-seen stresses, strains, sacrifices, triumphs, tragedies, and pressures placed upon those family members who carry the weight of tending to their wounded warriors.

In 2014, the RAND Corporation study, Hidden Heroes, estimated that 1.1 million of America’s military caregivers were spouses, parents, and friends caring for post-9/11 U.S. military veterans. The study estimated that 5.5 million family caregivers exist for all U.S. wars. Still, few know little about this subject.

Weight of Honor intends to raise this awareness to a general viewing audience through its compelling look at the lives of the caregivers. Howard told Breitbart Texas she became interested in the topic after attending an event for wounded warriors some years back. She said she knew there was a story to tell.

As Americans, Howard pointed out, we tend to think of the sacrifices and challenges made by our military. However, as a filmmaker, she said dug deeper to look at the often devastating impact the war on terror has had on family caregivers. She told Breitbart Texas, “These families are impacted forever.”

The documentary shines a light on what it takes to be a hero to a hero. “This film is not about these ‘poor people’,” underscored Howard about the lives of these caregivers, “but how courageous and resilient they are.”

When returning wounded service men and women are released from critical care facilities to recover at home, it is the spouses, brothers, sisters, parents, and even the children who provide daily care, Howard explained. These family members tend to paralysis, catastrophic burns, and the loss of one or multiple limbs. These are duties usually reserved for nurses, physical therapists, and psychologists. Many returning veterans bear the invisible scars of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Howard said the caregivers sometimes suffer from their own type of post-traumatic stress after being thrust into their new roles as caretakers of spouse and the couple’s often young children.

Several of the featured families live in Texas. Kathreyn Phillips Harris cared for her husband Shilo after he returned from Iraq nine years ago horrifically burned by an improvised explosive device (IED) attack. Her role as a wife dramatically changed. In the trailer, she described she “took care of him just like a mother does a child.”

Linzi Andersen, a young mother of a two-year-old son is the full-time caregiver for her husband Micah, who stepped on an IED in Iraq. He lost both legs. They live in San Antonio where Micah receives additional medical procedures at a military hospital.

“This is a human issue,” added Howard. “This is about all Americans.”

Howard hopes to have the film ready for release in late 2016. Co-producing is husband Rodger Howard, a multiple Los Angeles Emmy Award-winning television photojournalist for his work as a news cameraman at KTTV 11 (Fox) and a National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE) Iris Award recipient.

To learn more about the documentary or about the campaign to finish the project, visit the Weight of Honor movie website.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.