|“Comedy Warriors” follows five wounded warriors in their efforts to heal by performing comedy stand up while being mentored by the industry’s elite. Movie poster courtesy/ComedyWarriors.com.|
Many civilians don't understand the difficulty wounded veterans are facing upon their return from the Middle East.
Many are not only suffering from physical trauma, but also from emotional and mental trauma.
There are many ways to help a wounded soldier heal and “Comedy Warriors, Healing through Humor” shows one of those practices: humor.
The film, produced and directed by John Wager, had a private screening at the inaugural Middleburg Film Festival Oct. 25.
The film follows five wounded warriors in their efforts to heal by performing comedy stand up while being mentored by the industry's elite.
For filming, each warrior was paired with a comedy veteran to bring out their humor and prepare them for performing in front of a crowd.
Well known comedians Lewis Black, B.J. Novak, Zach Galifianakis, Bob Saget, Mark Brazill and Bob Nickman were the warriors coaches.
In the film, each of the warriors take the audience through how humor slowly began to help them and their loved ones through the healing process.
Loudoun County's own Rob Jones, a Lovettsville native, is one of the stars of the film. Jones is a double amputee after losing both his legs to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010.
Since then, Jones has been busy not letting his injuries slow him down as he recently won a bronze medal in mixed rowing at the 2012 London Paralympics.
In the movie, Jones talks about immediately after his injury before his mother saw him for the first time.
He said “I could just imagine seeing what was left of my legs coming out of the ambulance first, so I tried to figure out a way to lighten the mood a bit and found this giant pirate hat I wore around to help ease her.”
Each warrior takes the viewer through the experiences he or she faced after their accidents and the challenges each encountered as they entered life back in society.
For instance Bobby Henline, a veteran of Desert Storm and Afghanistan, was severely burned in April 2007 when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb. Henline was the only survivor. He had burns over 38 percent of his body and his head was burned to the skull. Henline eventually also had to have his left hand removed.
When he came home, he was self-conscious about the way he looked because everywhere he went people stared at him. Now, he stares back and gives everyone a friendly wave.
Henline had previously performed as a comedian before signing onto the project, saying he “believes God kept him alive for a reason and that his mission is to help create awareness for burn survivors, to inspire people to live life to the fullest and to heal others through his story and laughter.”
Henline opens his act in the film, with a simple statement referencing his appearance.
“You should see the other guy,” he said.
Darisse Smith, a retired Army captain and Kiowa helicopter pilot, was medically discharged from the Army in 2007 due to a severe lower back injury. The injury resulted in nerve damage in her left leg.
Joe Kashnow, lost his right leg in a roadside bomb explosion in 2003. He claims “I zigged when I should have zagged and flew home for not getting along with flying debris.”
Steve Rice lost his left leg after being blown through the air in an IED explosion. Rice refers to his tour of duty as “a pretty aggressive study abroad program with the U.S. Army in Baghdad, Iraq that didn't go well.”
Following the screening, Wager, Henline, Rice and Kashnow all were present for a question and answer session.
Jones was unable to make the screening due to his cross country charity ride on an upright bicycle. As of Oct. 25, he had just passed through Harvard on his journey from Maine to California.
“That guy is amazing and he is our hero,” Henline said of Jones.
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