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.

Veteran Documentary Corps Project at SFSU



The Documentary Film Institute (DocFilm) at San Francisco State University announces The Veteran Documentary Corps (VDC) project.  VDC links professional filmmakers with veterans to tell true stories of the veteran experience to other veterans and their communities. Our goal is to facilitate greater understanding of the diverse personalities, struggles, and successes that define the veteran experience. Our stories come from all branches of service, military jobs, campaigns and nations.

Founded in 2011 by Dr. Daniel Bernardi, an Iraq War Veteran (2009-10) and Chair of the Cinema Department as San Francisco State University, VDC has produced ten short length documentaries that each focus on a single veteran’s true story. These documentaries can be found at  Several are also featured in film festivals.

“We want veterans to see that they’re not alone,” Bernardi said. “We don’t want to be all pretty and fluffy and patriotic. We want the veteran to have the final say. We want to be very much in the documentary tradition of trying to reveal truth, emotion and experience.”

Today we are releasing two additional documentaries:

Casey Conklin, U.S. Army, Afghanistan War (directed by Adan Pulido)

A former Army Ranger’s challenge to find a new sense of purpose in the civilian world that is as selfless and meaningful as that of a Ranger in wartime.

-Jack Lyon, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam War (directed by John Giannini)

45 years after serving as a platoon commander in Vietnam, Jack Lyon stays committed to the Marine’s motto of Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful), offering physical and spiritual support to wounded Marines at the Naval medical Center in San Diego.

DocFilm Institute

The Documentary Film Institute (DocFilm) at San Francisco State University produces independent documentary films, designs and maintains virtual archives and screening spaces, sponsors film festivals and conferences on the documentary form and culture, offers education programs such as master classes, and conducts applied research. Their most recent feature film, Cachao: Uno Más, appeared on PBS American Masters and is currently in the process of being developed for international and educational distribution.

General information & press inquires

Adan Pulido


Documentaries convey veterans’ experiences

(This story originally appeared here: and has been reposted with permission. The story, written by Jonathan Morales with the SF State News, was published October 16, 2013.)

Daniel Bernardi knows first-hand that re-adapting to civilian life can be difficult for military veterans.

“My transition back wasn’t easy,” says Bernardi, a reserve officer in the U.S. Navy and professor and chair of cinema at SF State. “It wasn’t as hard as for others, but it wasn’t easy.”

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(Bobby Hollingsworth, an SF State cinema student who served in the Army for 10 years, discusses his time as a criminal investigator in Iraq in a video that is part of the Veteran Documentary Corps.)

To help struggling veterans, Bernardi is harnessing the power of film and the Internet through Veteran Documentary Corps, a virtual army of vets who are sharing their stories with the public. The core component of the project, run by SF State’s Documentary Film Institute, is an online library of professional-quality short films about veterans, their time in the military and their experience returning to civilian life.

“I wanted to marry my work at the Documentary Film Institute with some of the struggles I saw vets going through, while at the same time addressing the fact that the public doesn’t really understand or know too much about the veteran experience,” Bernardi said.

Each video is roughly seven minutes long and tells the story of a veteran and his or her time in the military. Bernardi hopes these compelling videos will help others understand what veterans go through.

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(Julie Mendez is one of several veterans who participated in the Veteran Documentary Corps, sharing how discovering her passion for graphic design helped her escape the depression she sank into after coming home from Iraq.)

“We want veterans to see that they’re not alone,” Bernardi said. “We don’t want to be all pretty and fluffy and patriotic. We want to be gritty. We want to be honest. We want to be very much in the documentary tradition of trying to reveal truth, facts, emotion and experience.”

In one film, a World War II vet struggles with the guilt that he returned safely while so many others in his unit died in combat. In another, a female Iraq War veteran describes how discovering her passion for graphic design helped her escape the depression she sank into after coming home. A third documents an SF State student struggling with emotional trauma from serving as a crime scene investigator in Iraq.

Six documentaries have been completed, and several more are in production or planned. The goal is to feature veterans from multiple wars and all branches of the military, with a variety of experiences. The website also has links to resources for veterans and the project’s social media sites, and provides veterans an opportunity to create an online profile to interact with other vets.

Bernardi also hopes that high-quality, emotional and freely accessible films will resonate with viewers and help the public better understand the price of war, particularly the more recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

A photo of SF State Professor and Chair of Cinema Daniel Bernardi.

SF State Professor and Chair of Cinema Daniel Bernardi, a reserve officer in the U.S. Navy, wanted to help the public better understand the realities of life in the military.

“There was a human toll,” he said. “I personally don’t think the American public has as great a sense of the impact of these wars as it did during the Vietnam War, Korean War, World War II or World War I.”

Veteran Documentary Corps received initial funding from the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and is pursuing additional, external grants to continue the project. In addition, many SF State students, alumni and faculty have participated as directors, editors, production assistants and even documentary subjects.

Several of the documentaries have screened at film festivals for veterans. As the project adds more videos to its library and gains additional steam, Bernardi hopes to involve a TV network to broadcast nationwide.

Bernardi has been outspoken in his opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but says the goal of Veteran Documentary Corps is to be truthful, not political.

“I understand what other veterans are going through, and I want to do my part to help them overcome it in a way I know how, which is filmmaking,” Bernardi said. “I don’t want to preach, but I do want people to understand the human price of war.”

— Jonathan Morales

2nd Annual San Francisco Veterans Film Festival “Salute to Women”


By Adan Pulido, VDC Project Manager, Festival Director

Veteran Documentary Corps (VDC) is excited to announce the 2nd Annual San Francisco Veterans Film Festival and their salute to women. The event takes place on October 5, 2013 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Veterans and community members alike are welcome to enjoy a day of cinema, music and food free of charge.

Mainstream media often misconstrues the veteran story as a homogenous story of war creating a mythic understanding of what it means to serve. The festival’s mission is to erode these conventions and present authentic representations. This years line up of films continues to chip away at these stereotypes and narrowly guided representations of the veteran experience by focusing on the challenges women face while serving in a male dominated military.

Local veteran advocate, festival founder and retired Master Sergeant, Eddie Ramirez is pleased with the growing success of the festival, “we are bringing a lot of veteran’s organizations and filmmakers together from different backgrounds and providing the community with an event that we hope will continue to serve the city for years to come.”

Dr. Daniel Bernardi, Cinema Chair at San Francisco State University, Lt. Commander in the Naval Reserves, and Executive Director of Veteran Documentary Corps shares his excitement, “The Master Sergeant is doing an amazing job and we are pleased to sponsor this event and screen our VDC films at the festival. We are all behind this and doing everything we can to make this important event happen.”

SFVFF works hard to curate films from a variety of perspectives, and offer safe places for spectators, veterans and their subjects to engage in productive community discourse.  For directions to the Mission Cultural Center click the link below, and we look forward to seeing you there.

About Us

Founded in 2011 by Dr. Daniel Bernardi an Iraq War Veteran and cinema scholar, Veteran Documentary Corps (VDC) is a 501 C3 non-profit organization dedicated to telling the veteran story for civilians and veterans alike. Too often war movies, video games, and other media representations that exaggerate military culture by perpetuating the myth of the stoic soldier who suffers in silence on behalf of his or her country are the only representations of veterans most people encounter. As a result, many veterans remain silent about their injuries and struggles. Each VDC documentary features one veteran, and is produced and directed by professional filmmakers often volunteering their time or reducing their rates substantially in order to ensure that veteran’s stories convey honor, artistry and truth. Veterans participate in the editing process and stories come from all areas of service, wars, and nations. VDC documentaries provide truthful accounts that engage viewers in meaningful ways, and promote improved use of services while enhancing veteran-to-veteran and community engagement.