New Veteran Documentary Corps Release: Joel Hunt

Joel served in the US Army from 1998-2007 working as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist. After three tours in the Iraq War Joel came home and struggled with PTSD, and was eventually diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury. After a tough road, Joel found his road to recovery in competitive snow skiing. With the help of his service dog Barret, Joel is a champion for those with disabilities and fellow veterans diagnosed with a TBI or PTSD. Joel competed in the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games as a representative for the United States.

New VDC release: John Baumhackl

Veteran Documentary Corps: John Baumhackl from Documentary Film Institute on Vimeo.

DocFilm and the Veteran Documentary Corps is excited to announce the release of their newest film about Vietnam War veteran, John Baumhackl. Drafted in January 1969 John was originally sent to the 58th Signal Battalion at Fort Lewis Washington, but then quickly volunteered for a deployment to Vietnam. Upon his arrival in Vietnam John was reassigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry, Air Cavalry Troop, 33rd Chemical detachment. While in Vietnam John’s interests in photography and film were piqued. He amassed a collection of 35mm slides, and was able to shoot 8mm footage with a camera he purchased from the military store on his base. John has found a renewed interest in sharing this footage and photography as his connection to fellow Vietnam veterans has grown through the emergence of social media sites and veteran forums. John enjoys engaging with the veteran community, and spends much of his free time volunteering for the VA in San Francisco. He believes in the healing power of sharing experiences and stories with the veteran communities. After watching the final film, John commented on the use of his footage, “I watched the film and it was great! A very good job, and your use of film and pictures were excellent.”

“Like all of the films produced by the Veteran Documentary Corps the collaborative process is an important one- the team worked seamlessly with John, said Michael A. Behrens, Director of the DocFilm Institute and VDC Producer. Director and Iraq War vet Adan Pulido and VDC Production Manager Robert Barbarino echoed, “It was both a privilege and a challenge to sift through John’s large collection of important photos and 8mm footage.” Robert said, “John’s collection is such an integral part of his story and experience in Vietnam- it was important for us to incorporate his footage in a way that gives the general public access to John’s memories and experiences in Vietnam. It was a privilege to have access to John’s footage. It allowed us as filmmakers to help meet VDC’s goal of ‘facilitating a greater understanding of the diverse personalities, struggles, and successes that define the veteran experience.”

You can enjoy John’s film at the Veteran Documentary Corps website: Next month VDC filmmaker David Washburn’s film on Tian Soepengat, a Muslim Navy Reservist will be up on the site. Keep checking the site for updates!

Donate today; we can’t do it without you!


May 6, 2014
By Taylor LoNigro

On behalf of DocFilm and the entire VDC team, we want to thank you for attending the February 11 Veteran Documentary Corps premiere. The evening was a great success. Veterans and filmmakers alike had an amazing time.  Your support means a great deal to us all at VDC; we can’t fulfill our mission to tell veterans’ stories without you.

The VDC team has also released all the documentaries you enjoyed at the Castro Theatre on our website and on the Pentagon Channel.

As you all know, VDC currently depends on donations to tell each veteran’s story. A very generous donor has offered to match your gift, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000.  Gifts are 100% tax deductible. More than 90% of your contribution goes towards film production costs. With your help, we will reach our $10,000 goal.

A gift of $100, $$250, $500 or more will enable us to attain our 2014 goal of producing one story per month. Our next subject is Katrina Rodriguez, a Native American serving in the United States Navy. Katrina, is a mother of two children, and is deeply involved in her community of fellow veterans. If you give at the $250 level or above over the next three weeks, we will send you a DVD copy of the February 11 event!

Again, we thank you for your support and look forward to seeing you at future events.

Please make a donation today by following the easy steps below.

By Check:

Make your check out to:  Documentary Film Institute and mail it to:

C/O of Documentary Film Institute
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue FA 234
San Francisco, CA 94129

By Credit Card:

Visit this link: select the credit card option and then choose DocFilm in the scroll down menu under the Outreach + Special Initiatives section on the San Francisco State University donor page and Choose Veteran Documentary Corps.  If you have any trouble at all, please call 415.405.3753 for assistance.

Keep up to date on new films by connecting with us on Twitter, FacebookLinkedIn or on our blog.


New Vet Highlighted at VDC

New video highlighting veteran Tiffany McKinely is now online at the Veteran Doc Corps site. McKinely is an Oceanside native and Navy veteran trained as an Information Technologist 2.

After leaving the Navy she used her experience to the tech field and transferred to UC Berkeley where she is a cognitive science major and an active member of the Cal Veterans group. After she graduates from Berkeley in May of this year, she plans on pursuing an MS in Human Factors and Ergonomics at San Jose State University in order to break into the field of Human Computer Interaction.

a photo of tiffany mckinely
Click here to read more about Tiffany McKinely

David Washburn, an award-winning documentary filmmaker directed her documentary.  For over a decade, he has worked on films and oral history projects that document America’s rich cultural history, paying special attention to underrepresented communities.
“My work with veterans on VDC films has been a process of discovery – on both sides.  The characters in my films constantly require me rethink my assumptions of “typical” military experiences.  Their emotions on camera range from appreciative to critical, honored to ashamed – a rich spectrum of sentiment that we are exposed to in narrative films, but rarely see in documentaries on veterans.  Likewise, I encourage my subjects to rethink their personal narratives and to find new descriptions that fall outside the “acceptable” image of a veteran.  This results in a process of exploration for both participants – filmmaker and veteran – that creates powerful results and true collaboration in storytelling.” – David Washburn

by Naimah Mumin

Veterans Day & ‘The Task of Enduring Peace’

NYTimes-Page1-11-11-1918On 1918 November 11th at 11:00am an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, officially halting combat operations in the First World War, ending “the war to end all wars” which had claimed 37,466,904 casualties.

The following year President Wilson in his official Armistice Day proclamation stated:

“….Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service… … with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

Armistice Day was amended to say Veterans Day on 1954 as a result of veteran organizations lobbying congress to recognize service after WW1––WW2, Korea  during WW2, Korea and other combat operations after WW1.

The same year President Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the first Veterans Day Proclamation:

“…On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain…”

Many participants of our wars have taken these questions head on, searching for meaning and purpose so that their collective “efforts shall not have been in vain…” This is clear in Veteran Documentary Corps short format documentary on David Gan. Mr. Gan, an Infantry soldier pulled from the lines after being wounded in Normanday, strives to live a rich life anchored in service. In doing so he pays homage to his brothers in arms who can’t.

Similarly in Casey Conklin’s story, we learn of a Army Ranger’s challenge to find a new sense of purpose as selfless and meaningful as that of the Rangers during war. Both stories reveal the character and perseverance of our military on a personal level. Their commitment to the spirit of Armistice and Veterans Day is not restricted to a holiday but to their every day.

By listening patiently and compassionately to their experiences we develop a richer meaning for service and stay true to our responsibility of “enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain..”

Visit the Veteran Documentary Corps at to view and share our films. Do you personally know someone who’d make a strong candidate for documentary? Visit our nomination page to refer a veteran.