Last night at 8:30 p.m. CT, we officially unveiled The Weight of Honor to a group of veterans, their family, caregivers, and some of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) staff participating in the 2017 DAV National Convention.
This year's DAV convention took place at the Hilton New Orleans, Riverside hotel in New Orleans, LA and ran from Saturday, July 29 through Tuesday, August 1. The annual conference brings together thousands of ill and injured veterans to discuss veteran-related issues such as: veteran benefits and claims assistance, volunteerism and youth scholarship, legislative advocacy, veteran employement, membership and much more. To us, there was no better venue or group of people for our initial private showing of The Weight of Honor!
Attending the convention
Before the private screening, we took part in some of the day's activities, met with several attendees, stopped by some of the various booths, and took in a few of the events. Here's a small glimpse into our day.
It was very humbling and inspiring being around so many of the brave service men and women that have graciously fought and sacrificed their lives to protect us and our Nation. Moreover, we were extremely touched by the many caregivers we were able to meet and speak with - many of which are the disabled veteran's spouse.
There was so much to take in, guest speakers to hear, and things to do it is no wonder the DAV blocks out four days. And for us, with our one day of attending, we learned a few important details:
- Caregiving was a central theme to the convention
- DAV presented findings of a recent survey showing inequalities & challenges caregivers face
- DAV is working with the U.S. Congress to address the needs of caregivers - more on this below
We were elated to learn that the DAV has developed a long-term strategy, outlining where and how Congress needs to address the emotional, physical and financial hardships on caregivers. This makes complete sense, as caregivers are essential to the care and well-being of our ill and disabled veterans. Especially to the caregivers providing long term and continuous care: the quality of which has a direct impact on the veterans.
To drum up awareness, a blurb on The Weight of Honor was part of the convention program and each goodie bag had a card insert with the time and day of the screening. We also made sure to casually mention it during conversation with the various attendees we interacted with throughout the day.
By 5 p.m. CT, we started to work wth DAV to prepare for the screening, finalizing last minute details on how we would kickoff the film, what introductions and background would be shared, and how we intended to close.
Doors to the Grand Ballroom opened at 8 p.m. CT, allowing plenty of time for seating and mingling before the lights were dimmed at 8:30 p.m. CT. We took this opportunity to meet with several of the caregiviers and veterans. The schmoozing helped ease the pre-film jitters, and it was refreshing to hear first hand why this topic is so important.
Promptly at 8:30 p.m. CT, the DAV Commander, Dave Riley, and his wife and full-time caregiver, Yvonne, introduced our Director/Producer, Stephanie, to the stage. After a quick introduction, it was showtime.
Closing with Q&A
We are happy to report that our first screening played without a hitch and, after the credits rolled and the lights turned up, we were greeted with applause from the audience! We couldn't be more grateful to DAV and all those involved to get us to this point!
After the film played, we opened it up to questions and comments from the audience. There were several questions during the session and after we spoke with several others directly on what they thought of the film. Everyone's comments were positive and supportive.
All in all, we are now fully prepared for the San Antonio Film Festival, where we will officially premiere The Weight of Honor this Friday, August 4 at 12 p.m. If you are in the area, we hope that you join us!
The DAV calls caregivers 'unsung heroes', which is exactly how we see them and how we address it the film. Our goal and reason for making this documentary dovetails perfectly into the goals of DAV.
It's important that the civilian world know and understand the true cost of service in the military, and that there are families, wives, and caregivers working tirelessly to help and support our troops when they return home. We hope The Weight of Honor does them the same justice and honor they do for each of us.