Aired Monday January 31st, 2011 at 8:00 pm on KUED HD Ch. 7.1
One in three homeless men in America is a military veteran. 46 percent of these homeless veterans served in the Vietnam era. The numbers stand in sharp contrast to patriotic promises to remember and honor our veterans. A nation's best intention is seemingly lost on thousands of men who never fully returned from the battle lines.
In Street Vets, a powerful, one-hour documentary, local filmmaker Issac Goeckeritz takes viewers into the largely invisible world of homeless veterans in Utah and their difficult, but hopeful, pathways home. Street Vets will premiere on Monday, January 31 at 8:00 p.m. on KUED Channel 7.
For a year, Goeckeritz followed 10 men living in Ogden at a transitional housing program aimed specifically at veterans of the Vietnam Era called Utah's Homeless Veterans Fellowship. With a strong focus on four of those men, Street Vets is a remarkably candid view of the long-term scars of war and personal tragedy that, in many cases, have led to PTSD, alcohol and drug abuse, and a life on the streets.
Eugene became homeless in the early 1990s, sleeping under bridges in a cardboard box. Tom spent his nights in a storage unit. Like them, 200,000 veterans in the U.S. have no place to call home.
While the film takes an in-depth look at a serious subject, filmmaker Goeckeritz says it also has a lot of humor. Says one of the men, "How do people define what normal is? I want a T-shirt that says, 'Normal people scare me' or 'Normal people are why I take medication.'"
Shot in natural light to achieve a rough look, Street Vets is really "about the characters in the film," says Goeckeritz. They range from a former drug addict who is now a drug and job counselor to a man who spent 25 years in prison.
"One had his guard up," says Goeckeritz. "It took him a long time to open up. He finally told me that when he was on vacation in Australia, he flipped the car, which killed his wife. He was drunk at the time. Of the 10 men in the film, three had their family die."
Goeckeritz's previous documentary work for KUED includes God in Utah, Uintah United and Ogden: Junction City of the West.
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