To combine the therapeutic value of narrative with the power of digital media to help veterans and military families heal from posttraumatic and other service-related stress, and reconnect with family, friends and community, while also educating others about the challenges of service. To accomplish it’s mission, PVP holds film workshops at military installations, vet centers and other qualified facilities, enabling participants to create visual narratives that creatively express relevant service experiences, and significantly reduce their symptoms of post-traumatic stress and improve other quality of life indicators.
In 2011, having run teen film camps for several summers where boys and girls produced short films largely centering on adolescent identity, Ben Patton wondered whether this same process of collaborating to create visual narratives this way could also benefit veterans returning from combat deployment as they sought to transition home and find their “new norm” . This inspiration led to the inception of the I WAS THERE Film Workshops initiative. In the Spring of 2011, he and a team of professional filmmakers were invited to host the first such film workshop at the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Carson, CO where hundreds of soldiers were undergoing mental health treatment. Soon afterwards, he formed a non-profit organization, the Patton Veterans Project, to formally house the program.
Since then, the Patton Veterans Project (PVP) has hosted more than 40 film workshops at 8 military bases, VA hospitals, universities, and private clinics both in the US and Israel, enabling nearly 1000 veterans from 18 to 80 to collaborate on some 400 short films about their experiences. Along the way, PVP began conducting pre- and post-workshop surveys of participants, indicating that the workshop results in a significant drop in PTS symptoms, especially among those who report a PTSD diagnosis.