“Leave No Soldier”

A feature length documentary directed, produced and co-written by Donna Bassin,

an official selection of the 2008 Rhode Island International Film Festival.

“LEAVE NO SOLDIER,” Tells the story of two impassioned journeys by two communities of American War Veterans who have carried a Military Oath from the Battlefield

to the home front. The two groups are divided by their politics, but united in their devotion to dead comrades and their compassionate commitment

to “Leave No Fallen Soldier Behind”.

Below you will find mostly what is printed in the Documentaries Press Release, which if interested can be Downloaded Here in PDF with photo’s and more information.

I was asked if I could pass the information on to others, so any interested can keep their eyes open for this important Documentary. And those, in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and possibly as far away as New York and New Jersey as well as Pennsylvania that either knew or didn’t know about the film festival, and might want to attend, can plan to see a host of films covering many subjects, as film does.

Will add, if visiting the Documentaries site, you will find some links. As yet there isn’t a Trailor for the Documentary, have inquired as to if one will be available later, haven’t heard back yet.

2006: The third year of the Iraq War.  Rolling Thunder Inc and Veterans For Peace each undertake a highly emotional journey of remembrance, protest and reparation. In very different ways, each group has set out to redirect their grief and rage into a redemptive advocacy for soldiers at war overseas, and for wounded warriors at home. Occupying opposite sides of the political spectrum, both groups feel betrayed by their government, and vow that never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.

Rolling Thunder Inc organizes a motorcycle procession {which happens each Memorial day-JS} through the streets of Washington D.C. to the Vietnam Veteran Memorial. 500,000 Harley Davidsons echo the sounds of helicopters and B-52 bombers in a war torn sky. While supporting the U.S. commitment to the war, Rolling Thunder makes a powerful statement of protest against the governments inattention to our returning warriors.

A few months later, Veterans For Peace and the newly formed Iraq Veterans Against The War march 125 miles along the devastated Gulf Coast, supporting the politics of Social Transformation and repairing houses in solidarity with survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Like these survivors Veterans For Peace feel abandoned by a government indifferent to their plight. Unlike Rolling Thunder, Veterans For Peace is committed to a change in the U.S. policy on Iraq.

Set against the action of these two interwoven journeys, we follow two generations of American War Veterans — Men and Women, Soldiers and Nurses — as they make their passage from grief and rage to outspoken activism.

Directors Statement

As midwife to Leave No Soldier I have come to know a great deal both about

the struggle of many of our returning soldiers, and their extraordinary

courage in dealing with the painful aftermath of war. For this reason,

I chose not to make another film about war’s trauma, but instead to focus

on how some of our war veterans have come together in an effort to mourn.

Their mourning has not been a private affair; they have taken on acts

of social responsibility, and in doing so, they have taken back control

over their lives.

In part, the film is social commentary. It depicts a military culture that

encouraged detachment and numbing as a way to cope with both killing

and watching others killed. This is as true now as it was during the

Vietnam War years. When soldiers came home from Vietnam, many of us were

guilty of dismissing the needs of our returning warriors, of telling them

to “just get over it,” as Vietnam Veteran, Edie McCoy observed. We are less

guilty of this kind of dismissiveness today, but many of our veterans from

Iraq and Afghanistan still feel isolated and marginalized. They turn to each

other for recognition and understanding, maintaining the belief that “if you

haven’t been in war you can’t know what it is like”.

Now we are embroiled in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many Vietnam veterans are

re-experiencing painful memories of their war time experiences and returning home.

The press has picked up on a psychiatric diagnosis to describe this:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But is it actually a disorder?

Stan Goff, retired Master Sergeant, suggests that our vets’ PTSD is actually

a natural reaction to the deep distress of war experience. But too often our

society blames veterans for being unable to “get over it,” and they become

isolated and ashamed as a result. Is it surprising that so many turn to

self-destructive solutions of “forgetting” like drug and alcohol abuse?

In Leave No Soldier, Vietnam veterans emerge from the shadows and pledge

not to abandon today’s generation of returning soldiers. The communities

of Rolling Thunder, Inc., Veterans for Peace, and Iraq Veterans Against

the War (among others) are reaching out to mentor the returning wounded

warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan, and thus are maintaining their commitment

to “leave no fallen soldier behind”. The veterans in the film insist that

our losses must be honored rather than forgotten. The wounds of war while

painful also hold great wisdom. Their wisdom suggests that rebellious grief

and memory redirected to witness the present can be a catalyst for change.

As a psychologist, I am convinced that we must develop the capacity to acknowledge

our losses, and manage them through acts of atonement and repair. By developing

a humane political consciousness, we have the capacity to transcend our need

for revenge and retaliation. Leave no Soldier follows this arduous journey

to counter the destructive impulses that are evoked by war, pain and fear

and to recover life, identity, and meaning.

Tim O’Brien, Vietnam veteran and author, has described the heavy loads that

combat soldiers carry on the battlefield: weapons, mine detectors, tents,

radios, bibles, fear and grief and most poignantly each other. This image

of one soldier carrying their brother or sister out of harms way lodged

itself within me as a powerful narrative of care. These deep bonds of responsibility

and the lived experience of brotherhood and sisterhood among those who have

fought together are the foundations of any healing community.

Like a Greek chorus, our veterans express our collective sorrow; they warn

of the dangers of ignoring and forgetting. They hold the grief of war for us

who will not, and in so doing help us come to grips with its catastrophic impact.

Their communal mourning forces us to reflect upon our politics, and to pause

and think critically about actions done in our name and that of our nation.

If we as a nation send our children to war we have a responsibility to share

the heavy load they carry.

I want to close with my appreciation to all those extraordinary veterans

and loved ones of those killed in action who gave deeply and freely of their

time and thoughts. Jan Barry, teenage Vietnam soldier turned world citizen,

deserves a special thank you and although he doesn’t directly appear in

Leave No Soldier, his counsel and poetry are very much a part of this film.


Master Sergeant Stan Goff served his country faithfully

for over 25 years and in 8 conflict areas. He enlisted

in the US Army at the age of 18 and did his first tour in

Vietnam the same year. Afterwards he went career, and

as part of the Special Forces units, Delta Force and the

Army Rangers, served in the conflict areas of Guatemala,

Grenada, El Salvador, Peru, Columbia, Haiti and Somalia.

Since his retirement from the Armed forces in 1996, Stan

has written three books on the subject of militarism and

currently serves as an adviser and mentor of Iraq Veterans

Against the War. He is also a contributor to the

Huffington Post.

1st Lieutenant Mary “Edie” McCoy Meeks

served in the Army Nurse Corps.

from 1968-1970 and served for one

year in Vietnam, splitting time

between the 3rd Field Hospital in

Saigon and the 71st Evac Hospital

in Pleiku. She is a member of

Rolling Thunder, Inc. and Veterans

for Peace and often spends her time

visiting with the sick at Veterans’

Hospitals. She now works as a clinical

spine specialist in the Hudson

Valley of New York.

Sergeant Kelly Dougherty served in the Army National

Guard from 1996-2004. She spent 10 months serving

in Southern Iraq near Nazaria as a member of the 220th

Military Police Company. Upon completion of her service,

Kelly co-founded Iraq Veterans Against the War. She now

resides in Philadelphia where she acts as IVAW’s

Executive Director.


Georgie Carter-Krell has recently been re-elected to a second term as

National President of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. Her son John

Wayne Carter, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Vietnam.

She rides with Rolling Thunder, Inc. over Memorial day weekend. She is

working to get the Miami Veterans Hospital to be renamed in his honor.

Sergeant Artie Muller served three tours of duty in Vietnam

starting in 1967. In 1987 he founded Rolling Thunder,Inc.

a veterans’ advocacy organization committed to bringing

home all American POWs and MIAs from foreign conflicts.

Currently he is the National Executive Director of Rolling

Thunder,Inc. and resides in New Jersey.

Specialist Garett Reppenhagen served four

years in the United States Army, culminating

in a year served working as a sniper in Iraq.

He returned home in 2005 and immediately

joined Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Garett now lives in Colorado with his

daughter where he is completing degrees

in teaching and history.

Specialist Michael Blake served a year in Iraq from 2003-2004.

He applied for, and was granted, status as a Conscientious

Objector and received his dis-charge from the military.

He resides in Syracuse, NY where he splits his time between

pursuing a degree in political science from SUNY-Cortland and

serving on the Board of Directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Specialist Bill Mitchell served 4 years

in the U.S. Army from 1971-1974.

His son, Staff Sergeant Michael Mitchell,

was killed in Iraq. Bill resides

in San Luis Obispo, California,

and is the co-founder of Gold Star

Families for Peace.

1st Lieutenant Diane Carlson-Evans served 6 years in the Army Nurse Corps

between 1968-1974, with the first year being served in Vietnam.

Diane is the founder and chair of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project.

She worked for many years to have the Vietnam Women’s Memorial created

and placed near the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. She is also

a member of Rolling Thunder,Inc. and Veterans for Peace.

Specialist Abbie Pickett served 5 years in the Army

National Guard, and 11 months in Iraq as a member

of the Wisconsin National Guard 229th Combat Support

Equipment Company. Abbie is a member of Iraq Veterans

Against the War. She resides in Madison, Wisconsin

where she has organized a veterans’ support group.

Abbie tours the country speaking out against

the harassment of women in the military.

Corporal David Cline {RIP Brother David} served one tour of duty

with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam

in 1967. After being wounded 3 times and

receiving 3 Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star,

David was discharged. He spent the next

40 years as a full time peace activist,

serving twice as the President of Veterans

for Peace

Specialist Garett Reppenhagen served four

years in the United States Army, culminating

in a year served working as a sniper in Iraq.

He returned home in 2005 and immediately

joined Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Garrett now lives in Colorado with his

daughter where he is completing degrees

in teaching and history.


August 5-10, 2008