Every day in the United States, 22 veterans commit suicide. On Veteran’s Day (11/11), a new multi-platform experience called Lionhearted will aim to reduce this unacceptable statistic. Through art, film, and an interactive website, veterans and civilians will gain a raw and unfiltered look at the shared experience of combat, trauma, and healing.
The creative forces behind Lionhearted are Co-Directors and Producers Owen Garitty and Shane Ruiz. As a veteran and Purple Heart recipient and Directed of Digital Media at Safariland Group, Shane envisioned a dynamic project to bring a raw, unprecedented project to life. He tapped longtime collaborator Owen Garitty and his creative studio, FPW Media, to execute his vision. Over the course of one year, Owen, Shane, and the FPW Team traveled the United States documenting the powerful stories and experiences of our warriors, the Lionhearted. The Safariland Group film titled, Lionhearted . It will debut online and feature 22 veterans who share stories of their extreme experiences during deployment. Most of these men and women from all branches of the military said that opening up about their experiences allowed them to release inner demons and changed, and possibly, saved their lives. By sharing these experiences they hope, in what the film’s producer describes as “the first uncensored and real look at what it means to be a veteran”, will change other veteran’s lives. 6-foot-long, 430-pound red, white and blue mosaic flag: It visually depicts stories of the 22 veterans featured in the film and will be unveiled at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago on Veteran’s Day where it will enjoy permanent residence. Airforce veteran and artist, Shawn Ganther, also one of the 22 veterans featured, sketched each veteran onto a piece of body armor as he/she told their story. The pieces were then carefully connected to create the American flag.
Lionheartedfilm.com, a new website where visitors can watch full-length interviews of each of the 22 veterans and where both veterans and civilians can find resources for further support.
Shane Ruiz – “As a combat veteran myself, and one who is related to three of the stories in this short film, this has been more than rewarding to Direct and Produce. When you’re deployed you never really have a time to digest. Now this is a time to. A lot of these veterans are digesting for the first time, but by sharing their experiences it allows others veterans to know that it’s okay to talk about these things. It takes a lot of courage to get in front of that camera let it all out. These conversations allow the veterans to sail home to themselves.
Owen Garitty – “Directing Lionhearted has been a humbling and eye-opening experience. Any project that takes one year to film forces a closeness to the subject matter, but Lionhearted became a part of me in a way I could not have imagined. As the only nonveteran attached to the project, I felt an immense responsibility to each veteran who blessed me with their story and to the 22 a day who are not able to tell theirs. For a brand to allow Co-Director and Producer, Shane Ruiz, and myself to tell these stories as they should be—raw and unfiltered—is unprecedented. We aimed to capture each story as it was, free from any agenda or motive, and to give a platform to our warriors, the Lionhearted. To all of you who shared your experiences with me, I am eternally grateful for the privilege to tell your story.”
Presented by Lionhearted Project
Every day, an average of 22 veterans take their own life, yet this disquieting statistic is rarely noted by the media or our elected leaders. The Lionhearted project visits 22 veterans from the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy while veteran artist, Shawn Ganther expresses their untold story through art.