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Documentary looks at treatment options for veterans, first responders battling post-traumatic stress

"The bottom line is the film is all about hope," said documentary director Michael Gier.

DALLAS — A California film director, whose goal was to produce a scripted feature film on America's wounded heroes facing depression and post-traumatic stress, instead found himself drawn into the need for effective alternative treatments for struggling soldiers and first responders.

"It started me on a three year journey," Michael Gier said of an initial interview he conducted.

He met with a veteran while researching his idea for a movie who admitted he was taking 16 different prescribed medications to treat his medical and psychological issues. 

"A three year journey looking for treatments and options that would actually do more than just be a band-aid that would actually give our veterans, and then it turns out our first responders and others battling post traumatic stress, their lives back. And so that's what the film is all about," said Gier.

The result is a documentary called Wounded Heroes. It profiles veterans and first responders suffering from post traumatic stress and the alternative treatments and programs they are finding effective.

Credit: Gier Productions

"There are so many alternative treatments to being potentially over-drugged," said Navy veteran Michael Oluvic. He served 25 years active duty and, as profiled in the documentary, admits to his own struggles with returning to civilian life.

"Anxiety, stress, hyper-vigilance, depression, some guilt," he said.

Oluvic, interviewed by Zoom from his home in Alpine, California near San Diego, lives on 10-acres with his wife Tammy where they now run Saddles in Service.  Similar to the Equest program here in North Texas, it uses horses as vehicles for therapy. 

Oluvic, who joked with his Navy brothers upon his retirement that he planned to become a full-time cowboy, said the equine therapy proved effective for him. So far the Saddles In Service program has helped more than 300 veterans and first responders.

"I would say two things," Oluvic said, "one is that you're not alone. There's other people out there going through similar situations and experiences. Two, there's a number of people and organizations that want to help."

Saddles in Service hopes to open a Texas location later this year in Elkhart south of Palestine.

"So they need to remember when they come back home don't fight the battle alone," added Gier. "Get together with like-minded people who understand what you've been through and they have each other's back and they can fight this battle of post-traumatic stress together."

The documentary about alternative treatments and programs can be found on platforms like Amazon, YouTube Movies and Vimeo on Demand. And the director knows there is a demand for what it offers. A “Sponsor a Hero" effort also allows people to purchase screenings which can then be given at no cost to Heroes. 

"The bottom line is the film is all about hope," said Gier. "That people who were hopeless now have their lives back. They are off the medications and they are living a fulfilling life."

Lives from Texas to California that so many are dedicated to saving.


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