Film festival takes on military’s ‘Invisible War’

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The power of film will be used to shine a light on what’s being called the invisible war or the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military.

“They made it very, very clear,” said a female soldier in the movie trailer. “If I said anything they were going to kill me.”

Mental health advocate CJ Siroky is debuting this powerful film in Indianapolis as part of “The Shining Light Film Festival” to spotlight the terror some of our brave female soldiers have to deal with in uniform.

“Because I am a trauma survivor, and so in some ways I can relate to the experience,” said Siroky.

By showing The Invisible War documentary, she hopes it will inspire a movement to help these soldiers.

“For the longest time their commanding officer was judge and jury,” Siroky said. “There was no justice and they were just forced to continue to serve.”

In 2011, the Department of Defense said there were 19,000 sexual assaults. Of those, only 3,192 were reported and only 240 went to trial.

These stories are heartbreaking and they say when women start fighting on the front lines it will be even worse. They’ll be fighting two wars: one against the enemy on the battlefield and the other within.

They call it friendly fire—when it’s anything but friendly.

“He hit me in the head and knocked me out,” said one soldier.

Another crying soldier said, “I remember holding the closet thinking what just happened?”

Caregivers say this leads to severe post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicide.

“The awareness is what we’re trying to raise,” Siroky said. “We’re trying to raise awareness around mental health issues and also part of our mission is to reduce the stigma and also show recovery is possible.”

She said there is hope for these women to win this invisible war and change the culture so it doesn’t happen to the next wave of recruits.

The Invisible War will kick off The Shining Light Film Festival Thursday night at the Wheeler Arts Community Theater. The festival will feature 19 different films dealing with mental health and hope all weekend long. Tickets are free.

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