Documentary by two OHIO faculty members selected for Columbus film festival

Mar 21, 2018

Veterans' Project director Todd Fredricks, left, with Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Patrick Brady on location in San Antonio, Texas.

“The Veterans’ Project,” a feature-length documentary highlighting important issues surrounding veterans’ health, will have its first public screening at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, at the Drexel Theatre in Columbus as an official selection of the Columbus International Film & Animation Festival.

Todd Fredricks, D.O. (’93), assistant professor of family medicine at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Brian Plow, associate professor of media arts and studies at Scripps College of Communication, have teamed up to produce the film through Media in Medicine, a collaborative project that brings together visual media, the arts and medicine to improve research and teaching through storytelling.  

In the 90-minute documentary, “The Veterans’ Project” weaves together stories of veterans and health care professionals to demonstrate the uphill battle that most combat and service-wounded veterans face when navigating the complexities of military, VA and civilian health care systems. Through early screenings, the film has been used as a tool to assess and expand medical students’ understanding of veterans’ health care needs, with the ultimate goal of bridging the “Military-Civilian Gap,” particularly within health care.

The film was inspired by previous research by Fredericks, a U.S. Army Colonel and medical officer with the West Virginia National Guard, which found that many civilian physicians feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar dealing with health-related exposures and risks that veterans might experience.

“I’m incredibly proud of the collaborative work that Todd and Brian are doing to shine a light on the important topic of veterans’ health,” said Heritage College Executive Dean Ken Johnson, D.O. “Through the moving stories shared by veterans in this film, our medical students and others across the country can learn how to better address the health care needs of veterans of all ages.”

Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth, Ph.D., agreed saying, “Through their collaboration, Todd and Brian have demonstrated the important ways in which narrative storytelling can promote understanding of the human emotions behind what many of us know only as a general social issue or a set of troubling statistics. In selecting ‘The Veterans’ Project’ for inclusion at the Columbus International Film & Animation Festival, the artistic and substantive merits of the documentary will reach a wider audience and highlight our university’s strength in supporting scholarly and creative work that has impact for people’s lives.”

“The Veterans’ Project” seeks to bring civilian health professionals and the general public closer to the individual voices of veterans of all ages as they return to civilian life – one soldier; one voice; one story at a time. With more than 20 million veterans in the U.S., most physicians will encounter veterans in their practices, making it vital for medical students – and other health professionals – to learn to understand their specific health care needs.

“As a physician, my role in the military was to support our heroes – America’s warriors – as they deployed, while they were in combat and when they came home,” said Ohio State Rep. Terry Johnson, D.O., a 1991 Heritage College graduate and U.S. Army Colonel (Ret.) in the Ohio National Guard, who was interviewed for the documentary. “I was proud to do that when I served and now, looking back, I am happy that this part of our story can be heard.”

“The Veterans’ Project” also received “Best of Competition” at the 2018 Broadcast Education Association’s Film Festiva l for long-form documentary. Gary Sinise, an actor, director and veterans advocate known for his portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the Academy Award-winning movie “Forrest Gump,” narrates the production.

For more information about “The Veterans’ Project” showing at the Columbus International Film & Animation Festival or to purchase tickets, visit https://columbusfilmfestival.eventgrid.com/Events/37210/the-veterans-project or watch a trailer of the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_qQnpcWUzc&feature=youtu.be.

The Columbus International Film & Animation Festival, which showcases world-class independent films in central Ohio, is the longest-running film festival in the United States.