The Point - 11/01/07

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Producers Creating Documentary

on the

Plight Of Veterans


Bill Donovan



Someday, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan will come to an end just as it did in Europe, the South Pacific, Korea, Vietnam and other battlegrounds. But when the country moves on, many veterans and their families will be left alone to cope with the wounds of the war for the rest of their lives.


The plight of those veterans is the focus of a documentary a Massachusetts media company is producing with the help of the DAV Department of Massachusetts. "After the Bugles" is expected to a 90-minute video that focuses on the incorrect perception that disabled veterans are cared for by the government and-urges the public tocome to their aid.

The Producers


Laurence Babb (left) and John Sottile are the co-producers of “After the Bugles," a documentary about the issues that  disabled veterans face when they return from war.  The DAV Department of Massachusetts is working with Babb and Sottile on the project.

"We felt in our research the American public did not realize that veterans were short-changed in many ways," says Laurence Babb a co-producer of the video.  "We thought that we could bring the message to the public that veterans aren’t being taken care of as everyone thinks they are.”


Babb and his partner, John Sottile, run After The Bugles Corporation in Sharon, MA.  They began working on the documentary in 2005.  With the cooperation of the Massachusetts Department of the DAV, they have produced a six-minute trailer ( a short video) that includes appearances by Department Adjutant, Dan Stack, and former National Commander, Alan Bowers.  


Babb and Sottile are aiming for a finished product in 2008 that could that be shown in theaters, on television, and used as segments for public service announcements. Their hope is to raise funds to pay for services for disabled veterans.


Additionally, Babb and Sottile say that they'd like to run a telethon fundraiser for disabled vets... and are seeking approval from the National DAV headquarters.


"We wanted to differentiate our activities from other fundraising groups and we wanted to specialize on the people who need it most,” say Babb.  “In our estimation, that was disabled veterans.  Then, we looked at the groups doing things and felt that the one that was geared the most to our thinking was the DAV.”


Babb has a long career in movie making dating back to the 1960s.  Since then he has also beeen involved in television and video from financing to producing to marketing projects.  Sottile has worked in media productions and marketing over the same period, assisting large companies and start-up entrepreneurs.


Though Babb and Sottile knew that they wanted to raise funds for disabled veterans, they were unaware of the low-level of concern the public had for veterans until they started interviewing people.  In 12 focus groups of 10-20 people in California, Ohio, North, Carolina, Massachusetts and other states, Babb says that veterans were well down the list of groups receiving donations.


We found that people are contributing first to the various medical groups, such as cancer, says Babb.  “ The second was children and the third was women, breast cancer research, for example.  Then it spread out to a variety of other things and veterans were close to the bottom.


In many instances, people who were very generous with their contributions did not give to veterans at all.”  he adds.  “They just never felt ot was the place to go becasue  the misconception is that people are taken care of by the government and that they don’t need any money.  That was consistent right across the country.


The other striking impression Bab received from the focused groups was the generally negative view people had of veterans and veterans’ organizations.  He said many of the focus group participants thought of homeless, social clubs, and drinking when they considered veterans.


“The veterans have not done a good job of presenting themselves to the public,” says Babb.  When you mention veterans’ organizations, they though of social clubs.  When we mentioned DAV, I’d say that 90 % of the people didn’t even know what the letters stod for.”


Babb and Sottile hope that the documentary will change the views towards veterans, particularly those who are disabled, by making the public aware of their plights.


"When they come home there's a parade, but then the bugles stop, and they’re disabled to some degree and they have the next 40 or 50 years of their life to live,” says Babb.  “It can be lonely and very debilitating and in many instance they’re living almost at the poverty level.  We’ve got to change that.  If you’re will to give up your life or your limbs, you have got to be treated respectfully and given a standard of living that says “we’re grateful for what you have done and you’re a hero to us, not just a burden.”

The two graphics, separately and combined, are the marks and property of the DAV and DAV/MA.