Local Veterans’ Short Films Screening Comes to Aims Community College

A special event featuring powerful and impactful short films of local military veterans is set to take place at Aims Community College in Greeley. The event, organized by the Patton Veterans Project, will showcase short films created by veterans as part of an innovative program to strengthen family, community and professional bonds.

The free screening, open to all community members, will take place on June 13, 2024, at 6 p.m. at the Aims Welcome Center, 4901 W. 20th St. Attendees can enjoy a selection of short films while enjoying snacks and refreshments.

The Patton Veterans Project, created by Benjamin Patton, the grandson of World War II Gen. George S. Patton, has been instrumental in providing a therapeutic pathway for veterans to express their experiences through the medium of cinema.

Veterans from Northern Colorado participated in a three-day workshop at Aims in May, where they learned the art of filmmaking from a team of professionals. During the workshop, three impactful short films were created. The first film explores the challenges of separation in the military and its impact on marriages. The second film takes a humorous approach, resembling a commercial, while the third film sheds light on the struggles of anxiety and female veterans in society.

“This experience is life-changing. As an Army veteran who lost brothers in Iraq, doing this workshop has allowed me to enjoy the Christmas holiday for the first time in 15 years. It has also allowed me to meet a bunch of veterans who are also struggling in some form and has allowed me to support and assist in their recoveries,” says Michael Leeman, a certified peer support specialist from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Leeman is also an Aims alumni and works as the director of event operations and strategy with the Patton Veterans Project.

Leeman further emphasized the workshop’s significance, stating, “The reason it is an exciting and worthwhile experience is that you get to see these veterans that have never met before come together and create a message or story through film. You get to see the anxiety and nervousness on Friday night turn into smiles and laughter by the end of the workshop.”

The Patton Veterans Project has successfully conducted more than 70 film workshops at various military bases, VA hospitals, universities and private clinics in the United States and Israel. These workshops have enabled more than 1,500 veterans, ranging from 18-80 years old, to collaborate on over 300 short films, providing a platform for them to express their experiences. Pre- and post-workshop surveys conducted by the project have shown a significant decrease in post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, particularly among those who reported a PTS diagnosis.

Patton highlights the power of film as a universal language. He states, “The video camera is probably the most powerful communications device anybody’s ever invented. It’s a lot of fun to make a movie with your friends, feel good about yourself, make some movies and learn a skill. All you have to do is get these guys in the room. Once they get in the room, the magic happens.”

The Patton Veterans Project continues to profoundly impact veterans’ lives, helping them change their perspectives on life and their prospects. For more information about the Patton Veterans Project, visit pattonveteransproject.org. Connect to events.aims.edu to learn more about this and other upcoming Aims Community College events.