Jason Edwards, 32, steps into an audio booth to lay down part of his voice track for a documentary he is doing this summer with his college instructor.
“This would be the largest deployment of National Guard soldiers overseas since World War 2,” he reads in his east Kentucky twang. “One of them was my brother. This is the story of Joe."
Joe Edwards is 26, the youngest of 3 boys in a family from Harlan, Ky. Jason is telling his brother’s story of struggles with PTSD in hopes of helping him while also enabling his brother to help others who have also struggled after returning home from a war zone.
Joe Edwards was deployed to Iraq for 18 months. Jason Edwards is using a 12 week summer internship as a broadcasting major at Eastern Kentucky University to face the family’s trauma head on.
“Honestly it's a therapy for both of us,” Jason said during a break with editing and post-production on the documentary.
“That's why we call the documentary Two Brothers,” Jason explained. “You know, because my brother that left is not the brother that came back."
In video clips of interviews with Joe Edwards he tells of the nightmares, anxiety, depression and drinking that came with PTSD.
"For an entire year I just didn't really want to deal with the problems I was having,” Joe said in one of the interviews which will be part of the documentary.
"He was just so withdrawn,” Jason said of his younger brother.
“From an instructor's stand point this is really different,” EKU film instructor John Fitch said of the summer project."
Fitch is working with one student, the student’s brother and their family, all of whom are trying to copy with a taboo problem.
"It's still a sensitive and kind of a sore subject amongst the family,” Jason said. “Nobody really wants to talk about it out in the open."
Fitch has approached the shooting gingerly. “It's pretty intense and it's emotional and it's humbling,” Fitch said.
The goal is to begin distributing the documentary to film festivals and on line sites in August.
“I've heard that oh you're exploiting your brother, but the thing that my brother stressed from the very get go was, he still had the battle buddy mentality or I got your six, you know, I've got your back and he wanted to help other people,” Jason Edwards said. “So, I wanted to helm him help other people."
Asked in the documentary if he will ever begin enjoying life again Joe Edwards rubbed his nose, said quietly, “I don’t know,” and sniffled.
"He's doing better, he's manageable, he's managing his problems,” said Jason. “He's managing his anxiety."
“Really, a thousand times better, better than what I ever was before,” said Joe.