To date, tens of thousands of American troops have been wounded in the war in Iraq. What happens when they come home? For many wounded soldiers, the challenges upon returning home can be daunting. Yet the media often overlooks the stories of those who return home after serving in combat -- only to start a different battle.
HOME FRONT gives a face and voice to these soldiers and their families, told intimately through the Feldbusch family of western Pennsylvania, and their wounded son, Jeremy.
HOME FRONT captures the human story of Jeremy's return
to civilian life in his small hometown, and his subsequent readjustment
to family, community -- and most importantly, his new, altered self. The
result is an unprecedented and insightful view of how one family copes with
events that have forever changed them. A heartbreaking and inspiring true
story, HOME FRONT gets behind the often-sanitized myth of war to reveal
its true complications and costs.
A wrestler, football player and high school honors student, Jeremy turned down a chance to attend West Point and instead went to the University of Pittsburgh where he received a degree in biology. After graduating, he joined the Army -- two weeks before the September 11 attacks.
Hit by a piece of shrapnel early in the Iraq war, Jeremy suffered a traumatic head injury, and spent over two months recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Still very much in the process of recovering, Jeremy acts as a spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Project.
UPDATE: Jeremy continues to speak for the Wounded Warrior Project, and currently has a girlfriend.
CHARLENE FELDBUSCH JEREMY'S MOTHER
After Jeremy was injured, Charlene quit her job so that she could care for him full-time. The relationship between Jeremy and his mother is complicated and co-dependent; Charlene seems to need to take care of Jeremy almost as much as he needs her assistance. Recently, Charlene has discovered a new passion advocating for people with traumatic brain injuries.
BRACE FELDBUSCH JEREMY'S FATHER
A former coal miner who now works at a burial vault company, Brace tries his best to be upbeat and optimistic. At times, he speaks excitedly about experimental surgeries that he feels might one day restore his son's vision. He also encourages Jeremy to participate in the same father-son activities that they enjoyed before the war, in some ways not accepting that his son is forever changed.
UPDATE: Brace now works full-time for the Wounded Warrior Project as the Outdoors Coordinator, helping wounded veterans continue their rehabilitation on hunting, fishing and camping trips.
STAFF SERGEANT RYAN KELLY
In July 2003, Staff Sergeant Ryan Kelly was on his way to a conference about rebuilding Iraqi schools when he was struck by a roadside bomb. The attack destroyed his right leg below the knee. Kelly attests to receiving excellent medical care at Ward 57, the amputee section of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, but said he quickly realized that the military had no real plan for the injured soldiers. According to him, many had to borrow money or depend on charities just to have relatives visit at Walter Reed.
During his year-long recovery, the 25-year-old resident of Prescott Valley, Arizona learned to walk with a prosthetic leg, and conceived the idea behind the recently passed 'Wounded Warrior Bill" - legislation which provides immediate financial support to wounded soldiers so that their families can be by their side as they recover.
UPDATE: Ryan is currently working as a Project Manager and Senior Flight Instructor with Guidance Helicopters, Inc.
SERGEANT HEATH CALHOUN
Sgt. Heath Calhoun of Clarksville, Tennessee lost both legs after an RPG slammed into his Humvee. Calhoun, formerly of the 101st Airborne Division, is determined to bounce back and live a normal life as he continues his recovery at Ft. Campbell and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D. C.
For support, he has his wife Tiffany and their three small children. But it's been a struggle in more ways than one. Tiffany had to leave her job for nearly six months to be with her husband while he recovered, causing a financial crisis for the family. Heath recently relocated to Roanoke, Virginia, and now works full-time for the Wounded Warrior Project.
UPDATE: After being fitted with new prosthetic legs, Heath is not only walking, but also running, swimming, golfing and even hiking. He has not used a wheelchair since July 5, 2006, the day he was fitted with his new legs.
JOHN MELIA FOUNDER, WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT
Former Marine John Melia was severely wounded in a helicopter crash off the coast of Somalia in 1992. During the course of the war in Iraq, after seeing how most soldiers arriving from Baghdad or Landstuhl, Germany, landed at Andrews Air Force Base with nothing more than a hospital gown, John founded the Wounded Warrior Project.
The Wounded Warrior Project presents each soldier with a backpack of small comforts like toiletries, clothing and a compact disc player, and provides lodging and airfare for relatives. The project also helps vets during their rehabilitation with education, job counseling and peer support.
RICHARD HANKIN DIRECTOR/PRODUCER/WRITER/EDITOR
Capturing the Friedmans, which Hankin co-produced and edited, was mentioned on over 150 "Top Ten" lists and won numerous awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and an Emmy. The film was nominated for both an Academy Award and an American Cinema Editor's Award, and was recently honored by the International Documentary Association as one of the best documentaries of all time.
Hankin has twice served as a Creative Advisor for the Sundance Institute Documentary Editing and Storytelling Lab. He has been invited to speak at numerous film festivals, universities and events, including Columbia University, U.C.L.A., The New School, Maryland Institute College of Art, Rubin Museum of Art, HBO's Frame-by-Frame Documentary Film Series and the International Documentary Association's DocuDay. He holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University.
MEREDITH LAVITT PRODUCER
Lavitt has worked in the documentary field for the last 14 years. She worked for Sundance Institute from 1993 to 2005, most recently as the Associate Director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. While at Sundance, Lavitt consulted on such films as the Academy Award(R)-winning Born Into Brothels; award-winning Farmingville; Shakespeare Behind Bars; Indie Spirit nominated Romantico; Garden; El Immortal; On the Objection Front and Al Otro Lado.
Currently, Lavitt is producing You Must Remember This and Lost City with Looking Glass Films. She is also producing Mortified with filmmaker Eddie Schmidt, and is a consulting producer for Floating. Lavitt is also a consultant for Impact Partners. She holds a bachelor's degree from Brown University.
SCOTT ANGER DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Anger has teamed up with award-winning Frontline producer Martin Smith on two documentary films about the impact of the Sept. 11th attacks on America, including Saudi Time Bomb? about the growing tensions between America and its Arabian ally. The film has won a number of awards including television's highest, the Alfred I. DuPont Gold Baton for excellence in journalism.
MAX AVERY LICHTENSTEIN COMPOSER