I was inspired to make the short documentary “Virtual Iraq Redux” after I learned of the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder found in our servicemen returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. According to estimates by the Department of Defense, as many as 460,000 of our troops are coming home with symptoms of PTSD, and the difficulties that they experience integrating back into their families and society are great. After all, it is hard enough to find a job in this economy under the best of circumstances, let alone if you are haunted by traumas experienced overseas in defense of your country.
My wife, Maya Meinert, who works at the USC School of Social Work, directed me to the USC Institute for Creative Technologies where I discovered Dr. Skip Rizzo’s innovative virtual reality clinical therapy for PTSD. The treatment leverages computer and gaming technologies in novel ways to increase accessibility and acceptability, as well as extend the overall effectiveness of treatment beyond current conventional exposure therapy with highly promising results. ”Virtual Iraq Redux” is currently one of 100 semifinalists in the $200,000 Focus Forward Filmmaker Challenge and remains in consideration for the grand prize. The documentary is also competing for the audience favorite award, so please help get out the vote by clicking on the VOTE button in the upper right hand of the video screen below. Voting ends on December 20th.
I hope that “Virtual Iraq Redux” encourages veterans who may be reluctant to undergo traditional exposure therapy to consider virtual reality clinical therapy as an alternative. Our troops have protected and served our country with honor, and anything that we can do as a society to ameliorate and dignify their assimilation back into everyday life should be a priority.