A Rock or Something Productions is a production company created and run by veterans to promote interaction between the veteran community and the civilian community through writing, stage, film, and music. The company’s officers are upper-enlisted men and war veterans of multiple wars. We hope to expose veterans to their community and the community to THEIR veterans through art allowing not only the public to welcome their troops home, but giving veterans a chance to feel like they are finally safe to come home.
With the influx of veterans returning from combat to the workforce and civilian community new approaches to dealing with mental health and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder must be found. We are losing our nation’s veterans to suicide, homelessness, drug and alcohol dependency and crime faster than we are able to adapt and deal with the issues they face in losing what many have considered their identity as a service member for so long. Our experiences as veterans who have taken the steps to become artists and performers have shown us that there is a constructive, creative way to express our thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a manner that not only entertains our communities but also facilitates the interface between the community and its veterans. In that space, contact and communication has helped to make us feel that we do indeed have a home and a place in the society for which we fought. Our purpose as an organization is to build upon what we ourselves have experienced in this process and reach out to other fellow veterans, enabling them to have the same opportunity. Through the arts we have learned about ourselves in ways that few military members get a chance to explore. We will never “get better”, the scars that we bear both physically and mentally will not ever fully heal, nor can we pack our experiences away and move on. Through the arts we learn what triggers our emotional responses, and thereby learn control measures to mitigate the reaction we have which have become natural as a result of prolonged exposure to the realities of life in combat, where death is a real and constant possibility. A Rock or Something will create an environment for veterans to work together and individually on expression through writing, acting, producing, directing, photography and art, and music production where there will be comfort in the knowledge that we all have the same common trait of military service.
When I returned home I felt a disconnect from those around me, a disconnect from home. I no longer felt like I belonged to the society for which I had gone to war. How could I explain to people what being there was like, and more importantly, that I actually WANTED to be back there? Because of this perception, many veterans draw inside, and find the comfort they need in drugs, alcohol, and destructive behavior.
I was asked to be one of the cast members of Telling: Portland, a staged performance which takes veteran stories and pieces them together in a theater setting for the public. I really believed that at the end of the opening night show the audience would stand and boo us, throw things, call us names or just walk out disgusted, but I was amazed and shocked to find that not only did the audience give us a standing ovation, but they came forward to the stage and WANTED to talk to us about our experience. This was something I never saw coming.
What began for me on that stage has taken me on a wild ride from Portland to Washington D.C., to getting an agent, to being in several independent films, an Oregon Lottery commercial, a Foo Fighters video, stage productions, a part on NBC’s Grimm, and finally to here: A Rock or Something Productions. What was it that changed for me? I found that being on set or back stage opened up conversations which brought about an understanding of the veteran experience for people that had not known any veterans. I finally feel like I deserve to be home, and that I have a story to tell.
Miah Washburn - President/SFC Army Infantry
There is nothing worse than a war-vet without purpose. That’s what I was after returning from war in a stretcher. My perspective on society, relationships, and life had changed so drastically I found it impossible to be around friends, family, and the public. I embraced a self-destructive lifestyle and alcoholism with the drive I had used as a squad leader in Iraq. A year and a half went by in a blur before I pulled myself up, brushed myself off, and used VA assistance to go back to college. Five years later I graduated with my Masters Degree in writing.
The first time I tried to write about my experiences I broke down in tears over scribbled notes in a journal, but that didn’t stop me from trying it again. The need to get the stories out wouldn’t go away. Writing them down and reading them to others gave me a way to talk about the war, to get the demons out, to recapture the good feelings and exorcise the bad. My intent with this company is to help other veterans as well as their family members to work through their difficulties and reintegrate into society. These stories, essays, stage-plays, and screen plays have the potential to give back the sense of purpose.
Sean Davis – Vice President/Former SFC, Infantry