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Special Operations Soldiers Share Their Stories of PTSD in New Documentary

KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

Austin-based filmmaker Ric Roman Waugh got his start in the stunt business. His film credits include "Gone in 60 Seconds," "Total Recall," and "Hook." He then went on to work with tough guys including Val Kilmer and Dwayne Johnson as a director and screenwriter.

"That Which I Love Destroys Me" is Waugh's first documentary. It follows two special operations soldiers as they explore the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It screened at the Austin Film Festival.

On Working on His First Documentary:

"I’ve never done a documentary but (I said) if you guys wanted to go on camera, it’s up to you, you’ll just have to tell your story but I’ll film you. We’ll put something together. I don’t know where it’s going to go. And they looked at each other and looked at me and we all shook hands. They said the only stipulation that we’re asking you is that we want it to be completely unfiltered. We don’t want this to be censored in any way. We will tell our stories warts and all and we don’t want this to be about oh ‘woe is me.’”

On the Message of the Film:

"It’s normal to come home and have these types of issues and have these types of thoughts coming out of something that’s so violent as war. And it’s our job just to help them through that. To normalize the process, to be supportive of their journey. To get our hands dirty as Americans and I say that a lot now. If you’re an employer, help employ some of these men and women. If you’re not an employer, there are support groups in every city."

On Overcoming the Stigma of PTSD:

"If you talk, if you speak about these issues, you're seen as weak. It's seen as a weakness. And that's engrained in their head because, in combat, you're not going to have time to go crying on your buddy's shoulder in the middle of combat when you've lost people right next to you or some horrific thing has happened, you're taught to sweep it under the rug, cope in the moment, use fear and aggression - because that's what's going to keep you alive and keep the enemy on its heels. And that's it. Well, suddenly, your brain is wired that way and so when you come home, you don't know how to tap into those emotions and again its seen as a weakness you have to lean on somebody."

On What's Next:

"We are going to premiere on the Pivot Network on November 11 - which is Veterans' Day - and then we're going out with a multi-city theatrical tour in January and we'll travel all over the country doing special events in all of the biggest military cities all the way through the Fourth of July next year and it'll be a huge online campaign that you can look at:"

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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