When an American service member ships off to war, dreams and plans for the future are often put on hold, and lifelong goals become dependent on the successful completion of the mission.
Sometimes, however, the severely wounded return home facing new challenges to overcome before these dreams can become reality.
These detours often create inspiring stories of triumph and personal accomplishment in the face of adversity. Frequently these stories involve community organizations stepping up to help.
These are the stories Homefront Heroes will be telling through weekly webisodes starting today.
The original web-based video series was the creation of Microsoft executive Michael Allen. The philanthropist was inspired by the wounded warriors and their families he while working with the USO and various other charitable programs throughout the past decade.
Allen met director and producer, Brad Keller, when they hosted wounded service members and their families at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas, three years ago.
“After discussing the idea with Brad, we both agreed there were many stories being told about the individual struggles of the wounded and of the support by their families, but there weren’t enough outlets telling the full-spectrum story – the story of how these dreams are realized,” said Allen.
Each webisode takes the viewer along a wounded warrior’s road to recovery, giving them a first-hand account of their personal relationships, their reintegration into local communities, and the support offered by organizations around the country.
Allen, who has been around many wounded servicemen and women over the years, has noticed a common spirit of determination amongst the wounded – a particular gleam in the eye.
“I don’t care how severe the wound is,” said Allen. “The same look is always present.
“It’s one of pride and devotion to country, but it also says, ‘I’ve been through the worst, and nothing is going to break me. I’ve been there. Let’s go. I’m ready,'” he added.
According to Allen, there is no story too big or too small for Homefront Heroes. Every story shares in significance, as his project aims to shed light on what happens after our heroes leave the battlefield and turn their determination toward the fulfillment of their dreams.
For some, the detour may be long and for others short, but in the eyes of the wounded, recovery is just a minor bump in the road to their future.
Watch these wounded warriors’ stories at Homefront Heroes.
Joseph Andrew Lee is the USO's staff writer.