Nov 142011
 
Authors: Carrie Mobely

Anywhere between 10 and 18 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. And among those veterans, an average of 950 of them attempt suicide each month.

It was these sobering statistics that inspired Ethan Gordon, a sophomore fish, wildlife and conservation biology major, to take action.

“I read that every day as many as 18 veterans commit suicide,” Gordon said. “These statistics really shocked me.”

In an attempt to increase awareness of PTSD in veterans, Gordon said he came across the documentary “Poster Girl,” which depicts the struggle of a female Iraqi war veteran named Robynn Murray.

“I found this movie and presented it to the Student Veterans Organization and we presented it to Campus Activities through ASAP to provide the funding and resources to bring it to campus,” Gordon said, adding that a viewing of the film will be open to the public Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Behavioral Sciences Building.

“It’s just such a raw powerful story that I felt it was crucial to bring to campus,” Gordon said.

“After September 11th, I just walked in and said ‘I want to join the Army; I want to help people,’” Murray explained in the film. “I had no idea what I was getting into.”

Murray, who was described as an “all-American teenager,” was deployed to Iraq at 18 years old. She was quickly deemed the poster girl for women in combat by Army magazine after appearing on the cover.

When Murray got home, however, she found herself suffering from depression and flashbacks of gruesome things she had seen while overseas. She even went to an Army professional for help, but said she didn’t believe she had PTSD and even fell asleep during her session.

The documentary follows Murray on her journey to recovery, and gives non-veterans a unique insight into how war veterans feel when they come home.

“I mainly wanted to target the student population by bringing this film to CSU to increase awareness,” Gordon said. “But I also wanted to target veterans to let them know that there are other people out there going through the same thing they are, and to encourage dialogue between the two so veterans don’t feel it’s a one-sided battle.”

Murray is now an artist and poet currently working on an autobiography of her experiences as a woman in combat and the debilitating effects of war on soldiers.

She is also visiting colleges around the country to preview the documentary. On Tuesday, Murray and film director Sara Nesson will preview their film, which will also be featured on HBO this week, and participate in a question-and-answer session afterward.

Collegian writer Carrie Mobely can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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