UAF celebrates veteran’s day

By Elika Roohi
Sun Star Reporter

With 1,100 veterans and their family members attending, Veteran’s Day takes on a special meaning at UAF. During the week of Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, UAF arranged for a variety of activities designed to recognize the service that veterans provide.

“Ideally, we do that everyday,” said Jennifer Ward of Veterans Services.

Nancy Schiesari, The director of 'Tattooed Under Fire' explains the general response she received upon the release of her documentary. Tuesday Nov. 9, 2010. April Massey/ Sunstar

On Tuesday, Nov. 9, Career Services brought up Nancy Schiesari, the director and producer of “Tattooed Under Fire.”  The documentary, which ran on PBS, tells the stories of numerous veterans through the tattoos they get before and after going to war.

“I feel like it was a really important documentary,” said Patricia Picha, the director of Career Services, explaining why they brought Schiesari to Fairbanks.  “We don’t realize how many people have been touched by the military, or are serving in the military or are veterans.”

“Tattooed Under Fire” is a documentary that was filmed over the span of three years, following the lives of different soldiers before they went to war, and after they came back.

“I can’t imagine a person who’s not over there telling a story about this war and bringing it home, but [Nancy Schiesari] did it,” said Brian O’Donoghue, chair of the journalism department.

“My friend was a tattoo shop owner, and one night she described the soldiers that were getting tattoos,” said Schiesari, talking about how she came up with the idea to shoot “Tattooed Under Fire.”

“I’ve always been interested in the human figure,” said Schiesari.  “I used to draw and paint.”

This background in art gave Schiesari an interest in what art can express that words cannot.  “It’s a way to channel certain things that have happened to somebody,” she said.

“Tattoos very much become part of the visual backdrop,” said O’Donoghue, who took a group of journalism students to Iraq in 2009.

“This is what our soldiers are putting on the line,” said Schiesari.

Soldiers going to, and returning from, war often want to put a reminder of that on their skin.

A lot of veterans face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after returning from war.  PTSD is a serious problem where major trauma affects the lives of people who have long since tried to move on from the event they can’t escape.

According to Schiesari, this was the most contended point of her documentary.  People in the military who saw her documentary thought the film said that the government didn’t have many programs to help veterans with PTSD, when in fact there are a lot of programs out there to help with this problem.

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