In the United States, 22 veterans commit suicide every day. On Veteran’s Day 2018 (11/11/18), a new multi-platform experience—called Lionhearted—will launch and aim to reduce this unacceptable statistic. Through art, film, and an interactive website, veterans and civilians will gain a raw and unfiltered look at the shared experience of combat, trauma, and healing.
The creative forces behind Lionhearted are co-director/producers Owen Garitty of FPW Media & Shane Ruiz of Safariland Group. As a veteran and purple heart recipient, Shane envisioned a dynamic project to bring a raw and unprecedented project to life. He tapped longtime collaborator Owen Garitty and his creative studio FPW Media to execute his vision. Over the course of a year, Owen, Shane, and the FPW Team traveled the United States documenting the raw stories and experiences of our warriors, the Lionhearted.
Most of these men and women, from all branches of the military, said that opening up about their experiences allow them to release inner demons, possibly save, their lives. All of these veterans hope that by sharing their experiences, in what the film’s producer describes as “the first uncensored and real look at what it means to be a veteran” will change countless other veteran’s lives.
“As a combat veteran myself, I understand the importance of sharing these experiences. When you’re deployed you never really have a time to digest. This is the time. By sharing these experiences, it allows other veterans to know that it’s okay to talk about these things.” – Shane on the importance of the project.
In addition to the film, A 6-foot-long, 350-pound red, white and blue mosaic flag will be unveiled at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago on Veteran’s Day, where it will enjoy permanent residence. This piece will visually depict stories of the 22 veterans featured in the film. The website, Lionheartedfilm.com, is a place where veterans and civilians can view longer interviews with each of the 22 featured veterans and find resources for further support.
“Directing Lionhearted has been a humbling and eye-opening experience. Lionhearted became a part of me in a way I could not have imagined. As the only non-veteran attached to the project, I felt an immense responsibility to each veteran who blessed me with their story and to the 22 a day who are not able to tell theirs. To tell this story as it should be, raw and unfiltered, is unprecedented. We aimed to capture each story as it is, free from any agenda or motive and give a platform to our warriors, the Lionhearted,” Owen on his experience with the Lionhearted project and film.