After several months airing on public television stations across the country, the documentary, “Service: When Women Come Marching Home,” wrapped up its summer tour with one final screening event at the University of Cincinnati on Nov. 7.
The film, which features several women veterans and their transitions back to civilian life in the face of injury and illness, drew DAV’s support when it was released in 2012. “It tells such a powerful story. We felt it needed to be shared with as many people as possible—not just with women veterans, but with the American public and particularly with our lawmakers. The outpouring of support for this film shows how relevant and important this topic is,” said Deputy National Legislative Director Joy Ilem.
Last May, a DAV National Service Foundation grant sponsored the film’s distribution to public television and at special screening events in dozens of cities.
“Making this film available nationwide is a great example of what the Foundation is for,” said Board President Arthur H. Wilson. “We’re able to expand our reach to the community by telling the story of women veterans, educating the public and showing DAV stands ready to meet the needs of all injured and ill veterans.”
Anthony Louderback, an Army Reserve veteran and program coordinator for the Office of Student Veterans at the University of Cincinnati, said hosting the screening not only addresses the specific challenges women veterans face, but also helps bridge the gap between civilian students and those transitioning back from military life.
“We would like to raise awareness about the hardships women service members face, not only among the veteran population, but to everyone on campus,” said Louderback. “This documentary will be a powerful wake-up call to many Americans.”
The University of Cincinnati has historic ties to DAV and the veterans movement. DAV’s founder, Judge Robert S. Marx, graduated from the school’s College of Law before
serving in the Army in World War I, where he was injured and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Teaching at the school is part of his living legacy. The Robert S. Marx Law Library on campus and a lecture series he initiated carry his name.
The screenings held during the summer months were hosted with the support of National Service Officers, who have been able to reach out directly to local communities. “Thanks to DAV, the seeds of this grassroots project were scattered across the nation through PBS broadcasts that reached 85 percent of American homes and live screenings in many cities,” said Patricia Lee Stotter, one of the film’s creators. “Therefore, our warriors, through the amazing eight women profiled in our film, have had an opportunity to be better understood by all as they continue serving, in their fashion, courageously speaking out for the thousands and thousands of veterans who share the challenges they face.”
Stotter’s fellow filmmaker, Marcia Rock, noted that the collaboration with DAV has helped elevate the film’s message for the American public and the nation’s lawmakers. “Because of DAV’s support, we had a screening at the Senate and were then able to reach the VA and the politicians who are at the forefront of change for our women vets,” said Rock. “DAV members are now taking the film to their congressional representatives.”
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe that what started off as a labor of love became an integral part of a hugely important moment in history for veterans,” said Stotter. “Through all the platforms of this project, we addressed basic human rights issues through the lens of the largest growing demographic in the military: women.
Everyone can learn and take hope from the various paths these women found toward healing and reintegration upon returning home.”