WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – For most of the month, members of the National Guard work normal jobs and are a part of the general community, but when they receive the call that they’ve been activated their lives change drastically.
“Everybody’s got their life outside,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Smith, a recruiter with the Kansas Army National Guard, “but when the call comes and the mobilization comes and everybody moves down range together, then you’re full-time soldiers.”
That’s the reality for Staff Sergeant Justin Smith and so many other across the country. In 2011 and 2012, he was a part of the Oklahoma National Guard when they deployed to eastern Afghanistan. When they left, they asked to take extra cameras, particularly GoPros, to go alongside their helmet cameras to capture footage of their time. When they returned, a new plan hatched, taking the content and creating a movie, that’s where “Citizen Soldier” was born.
“Citizen Soldier” is a movie that’s the first of its kind, following members of the deployment in a new way. Smith says the movie is “literally a first person actual perspective, not a representation of, not based on the true story of–these are the guys. Myself, and the other soldiers from that deployment in 2011 and 2012.”
Aside from giving views an option to see what the soldiers see, it also creates a storyline with interviews and footage from embedded camera teams that tells the story of the deployment bu also the unique challenges they faced, “You’re there, you’re fighting an enemy, a human enemy but then in and amongst fighting this human enemy, you are also fighting the environment.”
The filmmakers say a part of their purpose is to shine a light on the lives of those who serve in the National Guard, but it also became what filmmakers called “digital therapy.” Smith agrees saying that the movie and efforts like it can “help heal another soldier, help stitch back together another family, help reach out to a Gold Star wife, mother, son, husband that had lost and build them up reach back out and lift them up.”
Those interested in seeing the movie can screen it starting Friday, August 5, and going for full week at 6:50 at the Warren East.