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Hollywood has a heart

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Just a little while back I watched a “Showcase” event at the Renegade Theatre in Hollywood. All of the performances were pleasant to watch but one was uniquely captivating. In a short, maybe five minute long vignette veteran film and television actor Jesus Ruiz portrayed a Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant dealing with a rapidly building case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The title of this short one man act was “Going Home” and while as a former Marine and combat veteran myself I spotted small technical errors I found the overall effort to be genuinely riveting. This I thought is exactly the kind of material that needs to be produced and distributed well beyond the tiny venue where it was being performed. Clearly Jesus Ruiz agrees and a serious movement is under way.

According to official government statistics over one in ten military personnel serving in Iraq or Afghanistan return home suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Those are the reported cases, many others go unreported for the simple and obvious reason the military men in particular often feel compelled to maintain a macho image and they tend to see PTSD as a weakness to be denied. Now an even more alarming statistic has emerged. In the first 155 days of 2012 there have been 154 suicides of military personnel. That is nearly one a day and those are the official numbers. I have heard from one unofficial source that the true numbers are over 400 suicides. Tens of thousands wounded, thousands killed, a genuine epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a shocking spike in military suicides and what exactly is being done about it?

Actor Jesus Ruiz knows the heart breaking realities of PTSD all too well. His older brother Pablo returned home from serving in the Air Force in 1968 a totally changed man; distant and cold. Shortly after he was killed in a motorcycle crash with overtones of PTSD as a contributing factor. Shift fast forward to current times and his sister’s son Juan Semidey returning from serving in the Army in Iraq was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So this has made the issue of PTSD very personal for Jesus Ruiz and rather than just complaining about the matter he is committed to doing something about it and he invites everyone to join in. It is one thing to be politically and morally opposed to war it is quite another thing to remain indifferent to the men and women who suffer because of it.

So Jesus Ruiz has drawn upon his many years in Hollywood working in film, on television and on stage to develop a short film entitled “Going Home.” That film parallels his stage show but expands upon it to reveal even more deeply the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on a United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant. Anyone who has served in the Marines knows that a Marine “Gunny” is about as tough a bird as there can be and if “Gunny” can get PTSD truly anyone can and there is no shame involved. His goal is to through this short film shed light upon this ever widening tragedy of modern American life. It is through awareness that our veterans will finally get the help that they need.

The short is well along the production process. When completed it is the intention of Jesus Ruiz to submit the film to the Sundance Film Festival where he hopes to draw the positive attention of a major studio with the end result being a feature film in wide distribution. There is no better nor faster way to get an issue resolved than informing millions of Americans that it is indeed something we need to take care of.

However Jesus Ruiz is not the kind of man to just sit and dream of great things to happen, he is looking at all avenues every day and based upon what I have seen so far he will succeed and he must. To that end he has turned to a unique financing tool to just finish up his short film which is his all important calling card to the next step. He needs the almost ridiculously small sum of $2500 just to complete the short and make it film festival ready. Over half of that amount has already been pledged. Anyone who wants to be a part of the solution to this horrible problem can do so with just a few dollars pledged to the project. Just take a minute to see what this is all about. Just click on this website: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1892964997/going-home-what-all-milit.... For as little as one dollar you can actually help make a difference. And beyond just doing the right thing you will become a real part of what will grow into a major Hollywood film project because this short is the first step. Once completed and in the film festival circuit Jesus Ruiz is totally committed to a major feature film. This beautiful venture launched by acting star Jesus Ruiz is proof that Hollywood indeed does have a heart.

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