Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Veterans take shot at Hollywood.

Veterans are coming home from war and ending up unemployed in a tough economy.
Some are taking a shot at another action packed career, Hollywood. Nbc 6 news reporter Karen Hopkins found how the film industry is putting American heroes in the spotlight.

“The whole time I was gone that's what I thought about. I love my wife. My son was my buddy and that's all that was on my mind when they took me was I may not see my son again.” Paul Murray says he was kidnapped by Iraqi soldiers during desert storm. He was a prisoner of war for a couple days before escaping. Coming home wasn't easy. “It takes some adjusting. It took me a good two years to adjust back to being in a civilian mode.”

Many military people have trouble transitioning, especially into the workforce. The national unemployment rate last year for young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans hit 21.1 percent. “It's depressing; you fall into a slump trying to find work in what you've trained for and not being able to do that you stare at the walls a lot. Their training in weapons, tactics there's not many careers that you can really come back to.” Former police officer Dave Valle knows how hard it is. An injury took him off the job. “Becoming disabled, I found my way into the film industry.

He partnered with Murray who owns a local shooting range. The pair started Tac One Ops 6 months ago.
The nonprofit helps people with law enforcement and military training use those skills on the big screen. 18 people in Shreveport have signed up. The latest role--playing extra officers in Nick Cage's new movie, Drive Angry. “So the vets that really enjoy military service, there's a way to use that knowledge and training. If you're on a set and simulating a battle that happened they’re getting to do what they're trained to do and what they like doing.”

Veterans can advise movie makers how to handle explosives. Others are trained to make blank bullets and teach actors how to shoot them safely. Even shooting blanks can cause a lot of damage.

Valle says vets can make up to $300 a day on set. While the business in Shreveport has been busy,
it’s not always steady. “I hope it keeps going.” So does the community. Murray says a Shreveport veteran who owns a uniform company donated thousands of officer outfits to keep Tac One in action.

The group has other vets signed up to be body guards for the stars of Twilight when they visit New Orleans. Anyone with law enforcement background can get involved with Tac One.
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