Army broadcasters have started filming at Fort Hood, Texas, for a new video series that will debut this fall.
Simply titled ‘Soldiers,’ the show aims to expose the human side of those who serve in the Army. The episode under production this week focuses on a Soldier who is not only coaching boxing, but coaching other Soldiers on how to deal with their post-traumatic stress.
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“We wanted to break the mold in DOD storytelling,” producer Peter Ising said.
“There are going to be some episodes that make you cry, some that make you laugh, some that are filled with action,” he said.
The program takes a bold look behind the scenes to show a side of Soldiers not normally seen, said Lance Milsted, chief of Soldiers Broadcasting at the Defense Media Activity. It also looks at family members and veterans, he said.
His aim was to have ‘Soldiers’ unveil the extraordinary and varied lives of those in the Army from a first-person viewpoint.
“The thing we want to highlight is Soldiers telling the Soldier story,” said Staff Sgt. Jose Ibarra, NCOIC of Soldiers Broadcasting and DOD broadcaster of the year for 2013.
The objective is to show the “real life of a Soldier,” Ising added.
This week Ising and Sgt. Nathaniel Phillips are focusing on Command Sgt. Maj. Edgar Fuentes of the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, part of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. The episode delves into how Fuentes used boxing and coaching to overcome PTSD and how he has been able to help other Soldiers with their invisible injuries.
The first episode produced for the new series is about a young boy in San Antonio, Texas, who is part of the Exceptional Family Member Program. Diego, a 10-year-old boy who is missing a leg, enjoys riding his recumbent bike with wounded warriors. He says the wounded Soldiers inspire him, but they insist it’s Diego who inspires them.
Other episodes to air this fall in the first season include:
- DOG TAG BAKERY: This episode is about transitioning from active duty to the civilian workforce. The bakery has a work-study program for veterans with service-related disabilities.
- CITY SOLDIER will explore what it’s like to be a Soldier serving in New York City — as a recruiter in Times Square, or as an activated member of the New York National Guard helping safeguard the subway and metropolis as part of “Empire Shield” since 9/11.
- WARRIOR GAMES focuses on a Soldier and veteran who compete in adaptive sports. Staff Sgt. Greg Quarles, a former Ranger School instructor, said adaptive sports helped bring him out of a “dark place” of depression after his injury. Former Sgt. Ana Manciaz lost her leg in a motorcycle accident and said bicycle racing has helped her overcome her fears to get back in the saddle.
- SULLIVAN CUP follows an M-1 tank crew through training at Fort Stewart, Georgia, through competing in the biannual Sullivan Cup gunnery competition at Fort Benning.
The series will be available this fall on DefenseTV.com and its app on Apple TV and Roku. All six episodes will be released at once, so as to allow viewers who whet their appetite with the first episode to see more.
‘PUTTING IN HEART’
Sgt. Audrey Santana hosted the first episode. Her daughter, Cecelia, 4, is in the Exceptional Family Member Program, like Diego.
“That kind of triggered something for me,” Santana said.
“This is something I could really put my heart into, because it’s a lot like me and my family … I could relate. I could talk to them as someone who’s coming from the same place — someone who understands the program, who understands the struggles, the hardships; the good times, the bad times.”
When she sat down to talk to Diego’s mother, Santana said it was a very open conversation — like two mothers chatting over coffee. There was rapport and there was also an emotional investment, she added.
The segment on Diego benefited from that emotional investment, Santana said, and the passion of those portrayed shows on the screen as well. One of the goals for the series, she said, was to let the emotion of Soldiers shine through in every episode.
“The Army story is touching, it moves, and we want people to feel the way we feel about Army stories,” Milsted added.
The above release was written by Gary Sheftick (U.S. Army)