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Film helps Social Workers Experience Life of Veterans

Dominic Fredianelli and Cole Smith are featured in “Where Soldiers Come From.” Photo courtesy of Heather Courtney.

Dominic “Dom” Fredianelli and his childhood friends from rural Hancock in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula joined the National Guard to get a $20,000 signing bonus and help paying for college.

However, they ended being sent to Afghanistan to do the dangerous and stressful work of clearing improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, from roadsides.

Their heavily armored trucks often took direct hits from bombs and gunfire.

The carefree 20-somethings who used to spend their free time sledding and snowmobiling returned home suffering from Posttraumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

And they struggled to return to a normal life with family, girlfriends and other friends who did not understand what they had been through.

Official movie poster.

“I’d rather just be back in Afghanistan – life was easier,” said Matt “Bodi” Beaudoin, 24. “All I had to worry about was being shot at and blown up.”

Their story is captured in the award-winning documentary “Where Soldiers Come From,” which was shown on PBS’s POV documentary program on Nov. 11, 2011. PBS will re-air the film on September 6 or 7 (click here to find local listings).

Heather Courtney, producer and director of “Where Soldiers Come From,” spent four years with Fredianelli, Beaudoin, Cole Smith and their family and friends, even risking her safety to imbed herself into their National Guard unit in Afghanistan.

She said the film is important to social workers because it gives them a better idea what veteran clients experience.

The Veterans Administration is the largest employer of social workers with a master’s degree. And Dr. Jill Biden, wife of vice president Joe Biden, said at the National Association of Social Workers’ Hope Conference in July that social workers will have access to courses provide services to troops returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think the film is a very good way for social workers and anyone working with veterans and veteran families to see what their daily existence is like,” Courtney said.

“This is particularly true for veterans with silent war wounds – PTSD and TBI,” she continued. “Many of these veterans don’t know how to talk about it and don’t want to talk about it.”

Matt “Bodi” Beaudoin enters a therapy session with a social worker.

To watch a trailer of “Where Soldiers Come From” and learn more about the film click here. If you want to purchase the film for community group showings click here.

For instance, in the film Bodi returned from the war filled with anger, saying he hated Afghanistan and the Afghan people. He visits a VA hospital where he received counseling from a social worker. Courtney could not film the therapy session but Bodi emerged in better spirits.

He explained he was able to tell the social worker about feelings he couldn’t express with others.

“I probably told her things I haven’t told anybody in my life, really,” he said. “She didn’t look away from you. She didn’t say I think you should go see this or you should go do this. She just listened to me pretty much. Not bad. Not bad.”

The National Association of Social Workers is committed to supporting the health and welfare of the our veterans and their families. Professional social workers can find resources to help veterans by visiting the NASW “Social Work with Veterans and Military Families” website by clicking here. And consumers can learn more about the services social workers provide veterans and their families by visiting NASW’s “Help Starts Here” Veterans Affairs website by clicking here.

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1 Comment

  1. I will definitely share this video with as many people as possible. The preview is riveting.

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