About the Film

“Veteran Nation” is an award-winning, moving 30-minute documentary on the experience of how America has treated our veterans and their families from Bunker Hill to Baghdad; the challenges facing this generation; and how the American people can best serve those who served. The goal of the film is to inspire all of us to give back to those who gave their all.

Veteran Nation was an official selection of the 2013 GI Film Festival.

The Military Channel (a sponsor of the GI Film Festival) presented the documentary "Veteran Nation" its award for the festival which best represented the mission and values of the cable-televison network.

The documentary includes:

  • Riveting combat film from the front lines of today’s wars
  • Rare historical photographs and archival footage
  • Jaw-dropping animation
  • Gripping interviews with veterans and experts

Including the inspiring stories of:

  • Ben Richards, a combat veteran profiled in The New York Times on the trials of dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
  • Greg Gadson, a double-amputee who remains on active duty as the Commander of Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He also starred in the Hollywood film “Battleship.”
  • Captain Dawn Halfker, a wounded warrior who has become an inspiring young entrepreneur.
  • Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Jack Jacobs, co-chairman of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and television military commentator.
  • Marine veteran Eric Hastings, founder of Warriors and Quiet Waters, a model of a community veteran-service organization in Bozeman, Montana, that uses the healing power of fly fishing to help heal the wounds of war.
  • Jack Carney, a veteran of “Desert One,” the failed 1980 Iranian hostage rescue, who went on to lead the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, one of the most effective service-member and family assistance programs in the country.
  • Combat veteran Dave Sutherland, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “point man” on veteran and family support issues. Sutherland now heads the Dixon Center for Military and Veteran Community Services.


  • Mark Waters - Director
  • James Jay Carafano - Executive Producer
  • James Fitzgerald - Executive Producer
  • Josh Taber Junior Producer
  • Ray Otis - Narrator


In December 2010, the Council on Foundations and the Philanthropy Roundtable co-sponsored the program “Philanthropic Strategies for Helping America’s Veterans” held in Washington, D.C. This event provided a unique opportunity to examine the width and depth of programs to help veterans heal the wounds of war and continue in a lifetime of service.

The presentations were remarkable—informative, heartwarming, and inspiring. One presentation on Warriors and Quiet Waters—a community-based group in Bozeman, Montana, that employs the therapeutic qualities of fly fishing to help heal traumatically wounded warriors—was particularly stirring.

The conference highlighted two great truths about our veterans: (1) We owe them a great deal. (2) They are one of our nation’s greatest resources. At the conference, participants discussed the key attributes of a robust national enterprise to assist America’s veterans. They include:

  • Contact—reaching out to veterans and identifying their needs;
  • Comradeship—building peer-to-peer support and mentoring in assistance programs; and
  • Community—serving veterans and their families where they live and work, teaming with veterans and their families for long-term, sustained support with collaboration and clearinghouse activities that create a “one-stop shop” for assistance while fostering collaboration among those reaching out to veterans.

Unfortunately, we as a nation are not all pulling in the same direction. The need for an inspiring guide for philanthropic efforts has never been greater. On the one hand, the average member in the military today has experienced more service in a combat theater than any in our nation’s history. Over 1.9 million service members have deployed since 2007. Many have had multiple combat tours. An estimated 300,000 have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Ten percent of all personnel deployed to Iraq were wounded or hospitalized.

On the other hand, Americans have never been more willing to help. According to a Pentagon white paper, there are over 400,000 registered websites for donors and organizations supporting our service men and women. “This is more than a poll of do-gooders—it is a Sea of Goodwill,” the paper concludes. “Our nation needs a method to navigate this sea.” Many groups do not know how to reach veterans and their families, what they need most, or how to best deliver assistance. Both the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs have concluded that linking those who want to help with veterans and their families is the single greatest and most important challenge they face.

This urgent need inspired Esprit de Corps and ColdWater Media to make the documentary film “Veteran Nation: The Mission at Home has Just Begun.” The purpose of the film and the call to action is simple: Taking care of veterans is the responsibility of all Americans. The film was crafted to make three points:

  1. Explain to Americans that assisting veterans and enabling them to pursue their dream of lifetime of service to the nation in all forms of public life is the responsibility of all of us— not just the government;
  2. Educate Americans on the three critical tasks for addressing veteran needs—contact, comradeship, and community; and
  3. Offer a template for how any group of any size can tackle these tasks.

The documentary has a great story to tell. Few Americans know the triumphs and tragedies of how the nation has treated its veterans. Additionally, the film tells the story of contemporary veterans through the eyes of combat veterans who are fighting to heal the wounds of war while preparing for a lifetime of service. Among the veterans interviewed in the film is Colonel Greg Gadson, the Army wounded warrior who was featured in the recent film Battleship. Others include an individual participating in Warriors and Quiet Waters and a young veteran making the transition from military to civilian leadership. Chronicling their trials provides the emotional core of the film and illustrates the key components of successful veterans’ assistance and offering a template for others.

The film offers an overview of how the nation has treated its veterans from the American Revolution to the present. It then focuses on contemporary and future challenges of serving the nation’s veterans. The film runs less than 30 minutes in length, an ideal running time for viewing during a local community meeting.

Esprit de Corps, an all-volunteer, veteran-led 501(c)3 organization and ColdWater Media—a leading producer of powerful, cutting-edge documentaries—collaborated on the project.

The film was funded by generous donations from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

Veteran Nation is available at no cost for community screenings.