BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Jason Graven has never met his daughter, but when he does, he wants her to be proud.
In A Letter From Home, a film about Task Force 20, Graven talks about feeling worthless as a teenager. After 9/11, he joined the Army and served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I didn’t want to be a blip on the radar,” he said.
He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and launched a successful career but saw his military peers struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and feelings of isolation when they returned home. Veterans are four times more likely to commit suicide than the general population, Graven said.
“I wanted to stop the suicide pandemic,” said Graven. “So I started Task Force 20.”
The nonprofit organization connects veterans with resources and with each other. The focus is on paying for gym memberships so that veterans can reap the mental health benefits of exercise.
Since 2016, Task Force 20 has assisted 130 veterans with personal training and gym memberships, but it’s done much more – by getting veterans together and finding them a wide array of resources to get the help they need.
Alex Hinsch and Spencer LeGros, founders of Loud Kid Films, have made promotional pieces and films for many organizations. LoudKid Films won Best of Show in the Toledo Addy Awards in 2019 and 2020.
“We’ve done stories on veterans that have gone through the Task Force 20 program, but Letter From Home really tells the story about the organization,” Hinsch said. “A lot of people don’t know the story. Jason writes a letter to his daughter, even though he’s never met her. He fathered a child before he left for Iraq, and the baby was put up for adoption. This is a big part of why he does what he does: If she ever comes knocking on his door, he wants his daughter to be proud of him.”
A Letter From Home is a 25-minute film about Graven’s motivation to launch Task Force 20 and the veterans he’s helped along the way. The film will premiere at the Maumee Indoor Theater on Saturday, September 10 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available at no cost to the first 100 who email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Task Force 20” in the subject line. Graven and members of the organization will be there to introduce the film. A second showing is being planned for Thursday, October 6 at the Maumee Indoor.
For more information, visit Task Force 20 on Facebook.