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’22 Every Day’ depicts day in the life of combat vet coping with PTSD


22 Every Day will be screened during Shorts Block 2 during this year’s Bonita International Film Festival. The movie follows a combat veteran as he goes about his daily routine, illustrating how he relives his experiences during the war years later.

With the war in Afghanistan coming to end this Fall, there is renewed interest in how a new generation of combat veterans will deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the wake of 20 years of armed conflict. But tens of thousands of combat vets from the war in Vietnam are still grappling with PTSD nearly half a century after that war ended.

“My experience as an infantry soldier in the Vietnam War is one of the reasons I was motivated to make this film,” acknowledges screenwriter/director Isaac Osin. “Having witnessed PTSD first hand and that of fellow veterans, I felt that people might better understand PTSD if I could make a movie that puts them into the mindset of someone suffering from it.”

There have been numerous studies of PTSD in Vietnam veterans. The seminal study was conducted by the U.S. Government following a Congressional mandate issued in 1983. Known as the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS), it found that 30 percent of male and 27 percent of female combat veterans had PTSD at some point following their tour in Vietnam. At the time of the study, 15 percent of the men and 9 percent of the women were still complaining of PTSD symptoms.

Those percentages barely dissipated 14 years later when Harvard School of Public Health, Columbia University, The American Legion, and the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center did a follow-up study. At that time, 11 percent of Vietnam combat vets were still coping with PTSD.

Vietnam vets who continued to have PTSD experienced considerably more psychological and social problems, reported lower satisfaction with their marriages, sex lives and lives in general, and had higher divorce rates and more physical maladies (ranging from aches, colds and fatigue to heart disease and other degenerative disorders).

Half of all people with PTSD experience clinical depression at some point in time. In an effort to self-medicate their depression and chronic pain (PTSD is associated with higher incidents of arthritis and digestive tract disorders such as GERD and peptic ulcers), many vets with PTSD develop alcohol and drug dependency or addiction.

PTSD has also been found to be a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.

And for those vets suffering from PTSD who are not living alone, their partners and children are also affected by the disorder.

But even for combat veterans who have been suffering from PTSD for many years (or experience late onset PTSD), recovery can still occur.

But only with treatment.

“One of the reasons I made this film is in the hope that someone in the audience might follow the main character, understand his frame of mind, relate to this story, and ask for help,” Osin remarks optimistically.

Osin meets regularly with veterans, both in support groups and other gatherings. While he’s concerned, even alarmed, by the number of Afghan war veterans who won’t come to meetings or get treatment, he understands their reticence.

“For me, many years passed before I realized that I had [PTSD],” Isaac relates.

It wasn’t until his primary care physician told Osin that the way he was thinking was not right and that he needed to consult with a professional that accepted that he had a problem.

“I wasn’t happy about it, but I finally accepted that I did need help. And it probably saved my life because you don’t know what you’re going to do when you find yourself in certain situations.”

Veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than Americans who never served in the military. For female veterans, the risk factor is 2.2 times more likely. In fact, the film takes its title from a 2013 report conducted by the Department of Veteran Affairs which estimated that 22 vets die by suicide each and every day.

In the last four years, the official government estimate on the number of veterans who die by suicide has gone from 22 a day to 17 a day. But the rate of suicides among veterans didn’t decrease over that span. Only the way the figures are sorted and presented did.

But even that’s misleading.

The total number of suicides among veterans has increased four of the last five years on record. From 2007 to 2017, the rate of suicide among veterans jumped almost 50 percent. During the 13 year span beginning in 2005 and ending with 2017 (the latest year for which there exists data), nearly 80,000 vets took their own lives. And the solution is not merely a matter of marshalling more resources to the V.A. Nearly two-thirds of those suicides are among veterans not using V.A. health services.

When Osin began working on the film, he and his cast (Richard Bowers, Paul Croteau and Pedro De Armas are all ex-military) were exclusively focused on making a film they could share with veteran’s organizations in order to reach disaffected combat veterans and at-risk active military personnel.

“But the cinematographer [Tom Mason] did such a wonderful job, that [my friends at UFTA] said you should enter it into a film festival,” chuckles Osin, who has appeared in both Andorra and Anna in the Tropics on the Lab Theater stage.

He learned just moments before the interview that 22 Every Day had been juried into Bonita Springs International Film Festival.

22 Every Day will screen on Sunday, May 23 during Shorts Block 2, which begins at 4:15 in Hinman Auditorium.

May 8, 2021.

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