About Film

National Association of Social Workers Honors Almost Sunrise with Best Documentary Award

AVASW interview with Almost Sunrise director Michael Collins from Spring 2017 Newsletter: A few months ago, AVASW President Mandy Kalins received an email from a producer for the documentary, Almost Sunrise, looking for a way to connect with VA social workers and high-light this film and bigger mission behind it. This award winning film is about two combat veterans who, diagnosed with severe PTSD, go on a 2,600 mile hike from Milwaukee, WI to Long Beach, CA. Their journey is one of self-discovery and inspiration as they discover peace through meditation and nature. The film also introduces the concept of “moral injury’ and its usefulness in understanding the reality that some veterans face upon returning from war. The film aims to raise awareness for Veteran suicide and encourage Veterans to seek treatment. After viewing the film, Mandy knew that this was something that VA social workers would really connect with and benefit from. Fresh off their recent win as the winner of the 2017 NASW Media Award for Film, Mandy asked the film’s director, Michael Collins a few questions about Almost Sunrise. Tell us the story about how you came up with the idea for the film. A few years…

On Moral Injury, by Chris Marvin

As a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Almost Sunrise piqued my interest. As an advocate for more accurate portrayals of veterans on screen, the film drew me in. The reason I was so capture was the way the film introduced a concept unfamiliar to many Americans: moral injury. As the subjects of the film, Tom and Anthony, made their way across the country, director Michael Collins explicitly and effectively wove in both the definition of moral injury and examples of how it impacts returning veterans. Crucial to this lesson, was the differentiation between moral injury and post-traumatic stress disorder—which Collins demonstrated clearly. The result of Collins’ deft use of story and language to shape the moral injury conversation offers a clear conclusion that the burden of moral injury amongst veterans rests squarely on the shoulders of American citizens. It is not a condition for veterans to handle individually or within their own insular ranks. Rather, moral injury is tied directly to the way in which our communities receive veterans as they return home. According to Collins, the focus on moral injury in the film was inspired by other works, such as David Wood’s groundbreaking book What Have We Done….

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