Ethics Awareness Week Recognizes “Street Vets”

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Monday, Sept 24, the Center of Ethics at UVU screened Street Vets, a documentary that focused on the homeless epidemic that plagues Utah veterans.

Jeffrey S. Nielson, instructor of philosophy and director of Utah Institute, hosted the showing of Public Deliberation. Following the showing, the film’s director, Isaac Goeckeritz, was available to answer questions from the audience.

Street Vets features Homeless Veterans Fellowship, an Ogden housing center whose focus is to house and employ struggling Utah veterans.

The program provides veterans housing and other assistance for 18 months to two years. Goeckeritz filmed for one year to gain a deeper understanding of the vets’ troubles and what led them to this point of their lives.

Many variables factored into the psychological condition that directed these veterans into their current circumstance. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcoholism, drug addiction, and familial travesty are all factors.

“Many think that homelessness is a physical condition,” Goeckeritz said, “when it really it is a psychological issue.”

This film depicts each individual’s battle with a variety of obstacles.

The theme of the documentary was to help those watching outside of the problem realize that the origin of homelessness isn’t merely lack of money.

Each individual had their own series of traumatic events and didn’t put sole responsibility on the time of service in the military. Not to discount the detrimental psychological consequences of the war as PTSD.

A sequence from the film detailed the social and political issues behind the Vietnam War, which is the war most of Homeless Veterans Fellowship’s patrons served in.

American protestors took out their frustrations with the government’s dealings with the Vietnamese conflict on the returning soldiers rather than the politicians.

The effects from this thought process is still prevalent in these veterans’ life causing them to be denied employment.

“They would rather forget us than deal with us,” one vet in the documentary said.

Although their pasts have been difficult, HVF veterans use their common ground to create a friendship and support system for each other.

When asked about making Street Vets, Goeckeritz admits that many of the veterans didn’t want to be on film because it might have hurt their chance to get a job. But to those who did allow themselves to be filmed found it very therapeutic.

More than 100,000 veterans are homeless every year.

“What we want them to do is to change their behavior and address the issues that got them homeless in the first place,” Steven Peck of the United States Veterans Initiative said.

Therefore, HVF’s goal is to attack the problem where it truly lies and not just the outcomes of it.

Goeckeritz has made many films in Utah, being a graduate of Weber State. As a documentarian, he has made films for KUED and PBS Television such as God in Utah, What I Believe, Ogden: Junction City of the West, and Downtown Story.

“As a filmmaker I film to inspire,” Goeckeritz said. “I would like those who see my films to make a change in themselves.”

Using the fly-on-the-wall method of telling a story he is able to capture truth from his subjects.

The perception of homelessness in the country is often negative. Street Vets works to showcase the real roots of the problem so that the viewer is able to see through their own bias.