When Chris Huffstetler joined the Navy after high school, he planned on serving for life. What he didn’t plan on was that he’d end up here.
“No, I never thought I’d be doing anything like this,” Huffstetler said.
Chris spent 10 years as a mechanic onboard a Navy submarine. But, in 2011, medical issues forced him to retire.
Back at home, Chris became one of the more than 450,000 unemployed United States veterans.
He applied for job after job and got nothing. But Chris always believed something would come along.
“I don’t know how else to look for it cause I don’t want to waste a bunch of time feeling sorry for myself cause I missed out on this or that,” he said.
It was after all those misses, he got his big break from Hollywood.
“Hollywood’s an interesting place, right,” said Dallas Film Society president and CEO Johnathan Brownlee. “People talk a lot but don’t necessarily get stuff done. I tell you what, you hire a veteran, they get it done.”
About a year ago, Johnathan and the Dallas Film Society started a program called the Veterans Institute for Film and Media.
For 12 weeks, these former service members go through film and media basic training. The goal, by the end of the program, is to get veterans hired within the industry.
So far, every one of them has landed a job.
Chris was one of the program’s first graduates.
He’s already worked on a feature length film, hopes to make his own short film and now has the tools to build a career, should he choose to.
“I’m absolutely grateful,” Huffstetler said. “Again, it’s on us, it’s on me to make the most out of it.”
“This is our turn to serve them and so it really, it’s a great joy and an honor to do this,” Brownlee said.
Coming home isn’t always easy, but by serving those who serve we can write a better ending.