Published On: June 2nd, 2016|722 words|2.5 min read|
The first time I watched That Which I Love Destroys Me I knew it was a film that would transform our understanding of PTSD and the debilitating issues some of our Veterans face when they come home. Watching Jason and Tyler’s journey towards recovery I saw the many faces of Veterans I know who have walked the same path. I saw the same struggles, the same hopes and fears, the same steel-eyed determination to overcome. The film struck a chord across the nation because it showed exactly what it means to grapple with these issues that so many of our Veterans are facing. And, most importantly, it showed that these are issues we can overcome when we provide treatment and support to our veterans in crisis.
For the past two years as senior director of Justice For Vets, I have traveled the country working to expand Veterans treatment courts. These innovative programs offer an alternative to incarceration for Veterans who have come into contact with the justice system due to substance abuse, mental health or trauma. The sad truth is that when these issues are left untreated, the downward spiral can be quick and destructive and too many Veterans are coming before the courts. Veterans treatment courts provide a solution that connects these Veterans with the structure, treatment, mentoring and services they need to finally feel at peace here at home. Today, there are over 260 Veterans treatment courts nationwide, and over 13,000 Veterans who would otherwise be behind bars are receiving life-saving treatment.
One of the reasons these programs continue to expand is because they work. A recent study found that Veterans participating in Veterans treatment court experienced significantly better outcomes for PTSD treatment, and some Veterans treatment courts have demonstrated success rates of over 90 percent.
At Justice For Vets, our mission is to put a Veterans treatment court within reach of every Veteran in need. We are making tremendous progress, but we must continue to push for more. There is an urgent and growing need for Veterans treatment courts to serve the tens of thousands of Veterans who are unable to gain access because one is not available.
“That Which I Love Destroys Me” helps us achieve this mission because it bridges the civilian-military divide. It helps the public understand the Veteran experience and sends the powerful message that responsibility for caring for our Veterans is shared amongst us all.
Last year, Justice For Vets partnered with Participant Media on a campaign called Return the Service, with the goal of bringing awareness to the mental health challenges Veterans face, and educate the public about critical solutions like Veterans treatment courts.
The campaign included a 10 city tour to screen “That Which I Love Destroys Me” and host dynamic community discussions around how to better connect Veterans the services they have earned. The response was overwhelming.
I am a firm believe that our values mean nothing if they are not backed up by action. The film not only exposes people to the hard truths about PTSD, it challenges them to take action to ensure veterans have the support they have earned.
Inspired by the reactions we saw during the screenings we decided to show the film to Veterans treatment court professionals during Vet Court Con, our annual training conference. Once again, we were blown away by the response. Even folks who work with Veterans every day found that the film presented the issue in a way changed their perspective. Simply put, every person who sees “That Which I Love Destroys Me” comes away inspired to do better by our Veterans.
I am thrilled that the VA is partnering with Participant Media to ensure that the film reaches a broader audience. We have just begun to see the impact it will have. An impact measured in more lives restores, more families kept intact, more veterans finally leaving the war behind and finding peace, serenity and comfort at home.
Watch the film here:
Melissa Fitzgerald is an actor best known for her seven-year role on the NBC hit “The West Wing,” but off-screen she is widely recognized as a courageous advocate for people in need. In November 2013, Fitzgerald joined Justice For Vets as its senior director where she works to expand Veterans treatment courts and give justice-involved Veterans the opportunity for treatment and restoration.