The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect.
_Dr. Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger
Our mission is to provide trauma survivors pathways to healing through writing, filmmaking and job apprenticeships.
“As a young child I used writing and drawing as a way to express whatever I was feeling inside. My father was a blue-collar construction worker and my mother’s medical history was an amazing story of survival. I was just a teen when her final diagnosis of cancer took her life. I believe the trauma that I’ve experienced as a young girl is what inspired me to release my emotions in a creative way in order to find solace.
Little did I know that in my adult life that same approach to healing would be needed. On April 2, 2005, I was assaulted by my then fiancé and the entire trajectory of my life changed. After being released from the hospital I was in so much physical and emotional pain. Pouring out my emotions on paper once again became a healing release.
I shared my writings with women who also survived trauma. On July 13, 2006 I formed my 501-C3 nonprofit A Write to Heal and became an international keynote speaker for the YWCA.
Over the past nine years my advocacy work has expanded to include veterans. This turning point occurred when I met Ret. Army Captain Leslie Nicole Smith. As an amputee veteran Leslie was also recently diagnosed legally blind. She shared that attending my acting class gave her the confidence that she needed during this painful time. Leslie and I connected and our trauma-bonding deepened our friendship. As a civilian I was able to gain some insight on the challenges of our veterans.
This led me to cast Leslie in ‘The Shooters Nail’ my short film about an Army veteran surviving the violence of war. Leslie shared that being on my film set allowed her to experience the camaraderie she so dearly missed from her military service. I wanted to know if other veterans would feel this same way, so I cast a large group of military men and women in my next film ‘The Shades.' Again, the veterans expressed that being on my film set made them feel like they were not forgotten and that it gave them the same feeling of mission and teamwork that Leslie experienced. I knew I was onto something.
The veterans and Leslie’s positive feedback inspired my idea for the VFA-Veterans Film Apprenticeship. A program that I’m currently developing to offer our heroes the many job opportunities in the film and aviation industry with a focus on becoming a Part 107 Commercial Drone Pilot.
I've learned that overcoming trauma can become a common bond that has the power to heal and to lessen the gap between civilians and veterans.
My friendship with Ret. Army Captain Leslie Nicole Smith has grown into our shared mission. Our close bond opened my world to other veterans and inspired me to create the Veterans Film Apprenticeship and to write a series titled, 'Heroic Episodes.' The series is based on true stories of veterans. My research includes nine years of interviews with military men and women of all branches of service and all wars. Our heroes stories include messages of bravery, hope and humanitarian acts. These stories are vast and often go untold. The apprenticeship and the series will work in conjunction to provide our heroes with camaraderie, jobs and most importantly, healing.
Gary Sinise Ambassador, patriot, actor.
A Write to Heal's program - VFA
The Veterans Film Apprenticeship is a chance for veterans to heal from the traumas of war and assimilate back into civilian life through job opportunities & training in the aviation and the film industry.
Your tax deductible donation will help a veteran discover a better quality of life as they become a Part 107 Commercial Drone Pilot and begin a new career path.
Every donation counts.
Animal is a true hero. I'm forever grateful for his sacrifice and his service. In no way would I ever try to compare my assault to the experiences of war. However, sharing my story of survival with Animal allowed us to bond. When we began our interview Animal expressed, "Lisa, you survived your own war" and this enabled us to connect and talk intimately about his military service. I'm so deeply moved that Animal opened up to me and shared his story about his service in the Vietnam War.
How did A Write to Heal begin?
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