Jeffrey Wright on PTSD and veterans: “There’s a lot of work to do”
“Over time I became increasingly curious about veterans’ issues,” actor Jeffrey Wright said on “Salon Talks” while sitting alongside 26-year Army veteran April Harris. Wright has teamed up with Harris to help veterans heal from trauma through expression, writing and performance—an HBO film documenting their work, “We Are Not Done Yet,” is available now.
“We Are Not Done Yet,” directed by Sareen Hairabedian, produced by Wright, and featuring Harris, follows 10 U.S. veterans and active-duty service members who come together at the USO Warrior and Family Center in Bethesda, Maryland for a workshop led by poet Seema Reza and Community Building Art Works. Through staged readings of collective poems, the group is using art as a way to heal PTSD and trauma.
Wright, who has a Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe, says he became sensitive to how America treats its veterans over the years through his personal relationships with service members and his own travel to war-torn Sierra Leone.
Veteran care, especially around PTSD and healing trauma, need major attention, according to Wright. “There’s institutional lag, there’s policy lag and you see this is a generational thing,” he told SalonTV’s D Watkins. “Starting with Vietnam leading to now, you don’t see that there has been the progress that one would expect, given the rhetoric towards our vets that politicians often serve us with. So, as it relates to vets, there’s a lot of work to do.”
Harris added, “I think we served a purpose. And once you serve the purpose, and I hate to say forgotten, but [veterans are] definitely placed to the side.”
Watch the video above to hear the more about the work Harris and Wright are doing to help with PTSD, why society doesn’t fully recognize trauma the way it should, and how Harris made the life-changing decision to heal herself in addition to the work she has been doing to transform other people.
Photography by Jill Greenberg. Watch Jill's TedxTalk on the Female Lens and the problem with only seeing the world from a man's perspective. And find out more about Jill's initiative Alreadymade., a mission to hire more female photographers and content creators.
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