When the VA announced their proposal to close the facility, the community united in a way no one expected: fervant Republicans and hard-wired Democrats were working side by side, Native Americans from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, (one of the poorest in the country, recently featured in the August 2012 issue of National Geographic) whose people have served valiantly in our military, were hand in hand with the cowboys & ranchers, descendents of the original white settlers of the Black Hills. It was an amazing show of unity that even politicians from Washington, D.C. were surprised by.
The Save the VA Campaign took a stance against the VA’s proposal and through the VA’s own fulfilled FOIA requests, revealed shoddy research and creative figures in the accounting of the VA’s proposal, and instead of countering the VA’s proposal directly, came up with a groundbreaking proposal of their own: the implementation of the Veteran Industry to make Hot Springs the center of the VA system, focusing on combatting PTSD, substance abuse treatment, and homelessness in veterans of both former and current wars.
Skeeter Bite Productions has been documenting the ongoing fight to Save and Expand the VA from day one, and now is ready to begin work on a feature-length documentary showcasing what communities can do when they stand together and making a call to action to protect veterans all across the country.
The film’s director, Justin Gausman, a Hot Springs native, said, “I am so passionate in my belief that telling this community’s unique story to the world will not only positively impact the Hot Springs VA, but will connect with the many men and women currently returning home from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operating Enduring Freedom with the wounds of battle, both physical and mental.
I have had the opportunity to speak with area veterans from every conflict from WWII to the War on Terror and wish to be able to capture the raw emotion of their stories to convey on screen as I share the story of Hot Springs’ fight for its VA.”
The documentary will invoke patriotism, an “across the aisle” sense of unity, and a sense of duty to those who served. Skeeter Bite Productions has pledged not to focus on partisan politics or touch on whether military conflicts are justified or not. It will only be a call to action to help end veteran homelessness, combat PTSD and substance abuse in veterans, and to help Save the Hot Springs VA and VA’s all over the nation.