When we started making Charlie Foxtrot, I wanted to start a movement. You have to think big, right?
I was fueled by tales of legendary journalist who changed the world (Spotlight, All the Presidents Men and basically all things Edward R Murrow). That's what I wanted to do - tell the story in a way that would help our service members get the benefits that were promised. We'd spark a revolution in Washington.
In the midst of my reporter-dreams of grandeur, I couldn't know what was about to happen: the people we interviewed became the ones helping me.
On Monday we will all gather in Washington, together as a group for the first time. Our mission is to storm Capitol Hill. I can't reveal the battle plan just yet... but I want you to get to know our platoon.
Meet "Troop Charlie Foxtrot."
Peggy Portwine, Riveter.
We met Peg at the Roswell Memorial Day Ceremony, standing alongside a life size cardboard cutout of her son, Brian. She was our first interview. Eventually, our investigation confirmed the Army knew Brian was struggling, but he was sent back to Iraq to fight. He died by suicide.
Now, Peg leads her own mission to save other families from the same heartbreak.
She's the quintessential Mom, taking care of us by making sure we have every name, document and support item we could need. She even included a roll of tape in one of her deliveries to us, so we would be prepared for anything.
Nicolas Jackson, Battle Buddy.
His quote in Charlie Foxtrot, "I knew from that day I would get better, I guess" stabs me in the heart every time. When he said that, I just got it. I carried his story through every stage of post-production. We had to get it right for Nicolas. We couldn't let him down.
One night he checked in on us via text and we happened to be in the middle of a 30-hour work bender finishing the edit. Nicolas offered pizza and coffee -anything we needed, he would deliver our way. No journalist left behind!
Knowing he had our back kept us working to get it right for him and every solider like him.
Kristofer Goldsmith, Commander.
Kris doesn't know this, but he's also our unicorn. When we started investigating we were told we'd never find a solider like him who would go on camera. He has a less than honorable discharge and tried to kill himself while serving. "Finding someone like that who will talk publicly is like finding a magical unicorn," we were told, "It won't happen."
We found Kris.
He is brave, strong and determined to spark change. In the months that followed our interview, we exchanged at least 200 messages. He guided us through difficult military jargon, helped navigate political pratfalls and made sure every message we delivered hit the right tone within the veteran service organization community. He led us through the trenches.
The heart, soul and brain of Charlie Foxtrot lives within these three people.
I couldn't be more eager to gather with them on Monday when Mission Charlie Foxtrot makes a stand on Capitol Hill. We're going to change the world - together.
Jeremy Campbell is an ATLien, storyteller, traveler... & often all three at once.