Monday, June 17, 2013

The Welcome: A Healing Journey for War Veterans and Their Families

Dr. Miller Interviews Bill McMillan, M.F.T, Michael J. Maxwell, MS, and Bob Eaton

Bill McMillan, M.F.T., co-produced The Welcome with his spouse, award-winning documentary filmmaker Kim Shelton. Bill is co-director of the Welcome Home Project, a program that helps local communities actively participate in the return of their soldiers. His current practice focuses on veterans’ reintegration into civilian life.

Michael J. Maxwell, MS has spent the last thirty years working with combat veterans. In the late 70's he helped develop and implement the first Vet Center in Oregon. He worked at the Portland Vet Center for eight years as a therapist and then as the Team Leader.

In 1987 he left the Vet Center to join the Portland VA Medical Center staff to help develop PTSD programs for combat veterans. Mr. Maxwell retired from full time employment with the VA in 2006 and is currently involved in training, consultation and program development. He is a Vietnam era vet having served in the Army from 1971 to 1973.

Bob Eaton is a Vietnam vet who appeared in the film. He now mentors vets and their families. Bob continues to write songs and now records and performs them around Southern Oregon.

The Welcome offers a fiercely intimate view of life after war: the fear, anger and isolation of post-traumatic stress that affects vets and family members alike. As we join these vets in a small room for an unusual five day healing retreat, we witness how the ruins of war can be transformed into the beauty of poetry. Here our perceptions are changed, our psyches strained and our hearts broken. And at the end, when this poetry is shared with a large civilian audience, we begin to understand that all of us are a vital piece of the Welcome as Veterans try to find the way back home. Their examples of unflinching honesty, courage and love lift us up, inspiring all of us once again to feel our common humanity, always the first casualty of war.

The Mission of the Welcome Home Project is to bridge the historic gap between veterans (including their families) and the civilian communities in which they live. We use the film The Welcome in local communities around the country to catalyze dialogue, to raise awareness and to spur direct involvement by civilians.

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