A film dedicated to women in service will be featured in this weekend’s Gig Harbor Film Festival and pairs with the theme, “Salute to Our Military.”
“Service: When Women Come Marching Home” looks in-depth into the lives of female veterans. It examines a range of topics women soldiers have to deal with when they return from war.
Producer Marcia Rock and co-producer Patricia Lee Stotter worked to create the topic and decide where the film would go. It will screen at 5:55 p.m. Saturday on the second day of the three-day festival at Uptown Galaxy Theater.
“The story was really about women veterans and their service, the roles they play in the military, and the problems they face when they come home,” Rock said.
The film introduces topics that range from the use of prosthetics, homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder and military sexual trauma. It follows war veterans and shares their stories with the audience.
“It was wonderful,” Rock said. “They were terrific. They opened up, and they helped us understand what it is like to be in the military as a woman.”
One veteran featured in the film will be honored during the Gig Harbor Film Festival. Retired Cpl. Sue Downes, a Purple Heart recipient, will be at the theater as part of the panel discussion that will follow the screening.
In 2005, Downes was stationed in Logar Province in Afghanistan as a gunner and driver. She was working on a mission when her troop hit three landmines that were pressure planted. Downes was the only survivor.
She had both her legs amputated below the knee, had lacerations on her liver and intestines, suffered nerve damage in her left arm and has PTSD.
Downes began to walk within six months of receiving her prosthetics, Rock said. A major moment in her recovery was when she got her service dog, Lila.
“It really saved her life,” Rock said.
Downes is just one of many women’s stories that are depicted in the film.
Military sexual trauma also is discussed in the film, and it’s is a growing problem, Rock said. The film is rated PG-13.
“No matter who I talk to, the conversation would always go to military sexual trauma,” Rock said.
The film shows therapy sessions and educates veterans on how to receive the help they need. Rock talked about how women are more vulnerable to PTSD, but they heal faster than men.
Rock added that many women are not the same people they were before they left for war.
“I hope my film will motivate and get the women the benefits they deserve,” Rock said.
Rock didn’t know much about the military before she made the film.
“I learned women loved boot camp and that the women are absolutely devoted to their military and their service,” she said. “They love the experience, and they hate the injustice done to them, and they want it fixed now.”
The panel discussion also will feature Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, the director of the Washington Department of Veteran Affairs, local veteran Angella Arellano and Rock.
The film will be featured on worldchannel.org throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.
“I am so excited that they are making this an important part of the festival,” Rock said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of it.”