After nearly 12 years of continuous warfare, the United States finds itself still struggling to understand the effects warfare has on our warriors. Perhaps embarrassed by the results of past wars and how those veterans were treated upon their return, the Department of Defense, along with the Veterans Administration, is placing a lot of focus on issues related to Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury and Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury. I don’t think you will be able to find anyone willing to say that those organizations are doing a good job with that focus but at least there is an effort being applied. Stigma and improper treatment/diagnosis may still be a part of the military community, but it certainly is a more understanding environment than it used to be.

Many veterans go untreated or misdiagnosed for years, which generally leads to many other issues in their life such as unemployment, broken families and homelessness. We all know those organizations are trying. We all know politicians in Washington talk about how these issues are being addressed. But, ultimately, we are still failing our veterans. One Hollywood actor, a man you will know from his role as Mack Gerhardt on The Unit, is doing what he can to bring awareness to these issues and aid related charities in their cause.

To be up front and honest, I am not a regular viewer of television programs. Therefore, I was only aware of The Unit in passing. That changed for me once I found myself in Northern Afghanistan. Without television or radio, it was a struggle to find a way to relax after long days on duty. A fellow soldier loaned his portable hard drive to me one night and recommended I watch The Unit. I did. In fact, over the course of that deployment I watched every episode of the series. Of course, I was then informed that it was no longer on the air. Go figure.

Fast forward to today and through a very complicated series of events, I give you my conversation with actor, shooting enthusiast and patriot, Max Martini. Max is trying to get support for a film project titled Will Gardner. The film will help promote awareness of the effects of PTSD and TBI on our veterans and 50% of the profits will go to specific charities that help veterans in need. You can catch Max in the recently released sci-fi film, Pacific Rim.

Ross: Max, I know you are currently involved in filming on another project so we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Tell me how you became aware of PTSD and TBI issues. What brought it to your attention?
Max: I went to Iraq and Afghanistan during the filming of ‘The Unit’. I met an Army Ranger there that I became buddies with. He returned with TBI and two purple hearts. He was only awarded 20 percent from the VA – which was way off considering his condition. He has been waiting years for his benefits. His story made me look into TBI and PTSD and as a result, I stumbled across the homeless veteran statistics and was floored. I love our troops and know that the freedom we have in this country is earned. Our men and women volunteer to go into harm’s way to ensure that we continue to live the way we do. We need to take care of them upon their return. This is my way of serving my country and our military. You don’t need to be in uniform to do so.

Ross: Where did the idea of doing a film come from?
Max: Well, since it is what I know best, it is the route I decided on. But, that said, it is an amazing way to reach people’s hearts. I think if I can appeal to them I can inspire them to become more involved in helping veterans.

Ross: Did you find a lot of support in Hollywood for such a project?
Max: (laughing) No. No.

Ross: Those of us who have paid attention know that the majority of celebrities really don’t support pro-military or veteran causes. Is that the source of the lack of support? Or, is it the fact it is a charity project that turns them off?
Max: Look, I won’t say that there aren’t celebrities who support the troops. Obviously, the USO has been bringing celebrities to the troops for years. That’s just one example. But in my opinion, with the amount of money and resources in Hollywood – could we be doing more? Absolutely. There is a crisis here in the US right now. 890,000 veterans are awaiting benefits. 360,000 veterans are diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury. Arguably, 70 – 120,000 veterans are homeless in America on any given night. That number is hard to gage for accuracy. I think it is much, much higher. 22 veterans a day, almost one an hour, commit suicide in 2013. So coming back to your question, the majority of celebrities don’t get involved. I can’t speak for them. But you’re interviewing one that does.