The veterans’ stories show different ways to transition successfully back into civilian society after time in the military, including filmmaking (Mogler is a marine veteran), theater, leadership in school and community, and meditation.
An important touchstone of the film looks at the high numbers of suicide among veterans and U.S. citizens in general. As the narrator and filmmaker, Mogler asks each of the four soldiers: Anthony Plant, Nivardo Gonzalez, Sean Maloy, and Steven Olson about suicide among veterans.
“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” says Maloy, an affable fellow who moved to Oregon at the instigation of his friend Plant. The message is clear; it is important to find successful ways to transfer the leadership skills from deployment to civilian life, as challenging as that can be.
This showing of “Grunt” was put on by Jaya Lapham, Veteran Resource Coordinator at LBCC and Teri Bartlow, Veteran Liaison to the Advising Center at LBCC.
The filming for most of the story is realistic and gritty, with the OSU vistas providing a welcome bit of greenery and spaciousness. The profiles of the soldiers are filmed in detailed close-ups, making the viewer feel almost inside the movie.
In the movie, Gonzalez talks about discovering meditation as a technique that not only helped him, but was something he could share with others. Olson, who came with Mogler to LBCC to talk with audience members after the movie, said that theater, friendship and getting a companion dog have helped him and fellow soldiers deal with PTSD from serving in the military.
After the talk, Olson jumped up on stage to see the sets for LBCC’s upcoming plays with Michael Winder, LBCC Events and Production Coordinator. Olson was a student here at LBCC and has continued in theater. Juliette, Olson’s dog, waited patiently, wagging her tail when he returned.
Among the most poignant of the questions after the talk came from a mother who is concerned about the imminent deployment of her son. Mogler gave her a link to the movie so she could show it to her son and Olson said, “Don’t expect anything. Don’t expect things to be different. Just let things happen organically. You’re going to be able to stay in touch with him. For me, it was so awesome to see my mom at the gate, pulling out grey hairs [saying] ‘Look what you did to me.’”
“The Grunt Film Project” will be showing again at LBCC on Monday, March 18 at 7 p.m. in LBCC’s Russell Tripp Theater. These soldiers’ stories can spark important conversations about service in the military, and bringing those leadership skills and real-life experiences into higher education and ultimately into second careers.
Story by Karen Canan