As a television and video producer, I think a lot about the power of media to shape our culture. With my work, I have always tried to create content that shows the brighter side of humanity. When I began producing the 13 episode TV doc-series ‘Growing Home’ about US Veterans farming, working the land and winning at life, I honestly had no idea of the rich treasure of inspiration I was stumbling into.
I expected that these people we would be interviewing would be polite and friendly, but I had no idea that I would find the hearts of true servants among these Veterans. Every single person that we interviewed had a passion for continuing to serve their fellow Veteran brothers and sisters, unlike anything I had ever witnessed. There are a lot of subcultures in our society, but I have never encountered one with such a fundamental care, one for another. Most groups seem to have commonality around similar likes or passions. The Veterans we met seemed to have a commonality around – “I got your back.”
Growing Home aired on NBC affiliates across the state of Maine. The response from viewers told us that they too could see this remarkable care. Some called it “The greatest feel-good show around.” Another viewer said, “We are re-watching all the episodes to capture the thread of inclusiveness and care we all talk about.” Each program begins and ends with a message from Clint Bruce, a former Navy Seal & NFL player. Clint is a powerful speaker who travels continuously. He uses talking points from each Veteran story and challenges the viewer to live a more fulfilled life.
Whether it was Paul and Dee House, who lost their son in combat – only to turn their pain into an outreach for helping Veterans to heal. Or Robert Foley, a former Navy Seal who has outlived doctors expectations and now spends his life helping suicidal Veterans to keep living. Or Walter Green-Morse, who survived a combat injury in Iraq, fought through three years at Walter Reed, re-learned how to use the left side of his body, now has two beautiful children and operates a homestead farm with his resilient wife Aaron. These people are winners. They are givers. They are inspirational, And, I am sure, they are just the tip of the iceberg among the Veteran community.
You see, I am not a Veteran. I am a storyteller. My father and three uncles all served, some non-combat and some in Vietnam. They never talked much about their experiences and I never prodded. But, I do believe that within them, like with the Veterans we met in making this show, lies a learned lesson they learned of caring for others. This is a lesson the rest of us could use a healthy dose of. It is one that needs to be on our hearts and within our conversations. Our society fights the battles that all others have fought before. We fight the persistent fear that pulls us into a selfish mindset of “looking out for number one”.
I am a big believer in highlighting the positive. What we talk about, becomes our reality. What we bring to the forefront of our attention, we are conscious of. There is a tremendous amount of good inside people, if we look. I have seen that the Veterans we met have a sense of selflessness built into their foundation. It is this that makes them successful, even if they struggle. It is this that we need to see more of. It is this ability to care for one another, fight for one another, to stand with one another that makes us special. It is this that makes us people worth telling stories about.
Full episodes of Growing Home can be seen at www.growinghomeshow.com