When I Came Home is a film about homeless veterans in America: from those who served in Vietnam to those returning from the current war in Iraq. The film looks at the challenges faced by returning combat veterans and the battle many must fight for the benefits promised to them.
When I started making this film in 2002, I never thought it would end up being a film about homeless Iraq War Vets. I had heard that there were over 300,000 homeless veterans in America and that nearly half of them had served in Vietnam. I wanted to make a film that would uncover how so many Vietnam vets had ended up on the streets and I wanted to make a film that would do something to help these vets.
These homeless Vietnam veterans are all in their early sixties and in poor health. I really felt that if something wasn't done, many of these guys would end up just dying on the streets. I tried to imagine what it was like for so many of these guys - having to go through combat in Vietnam and then come home to a country which has basically swept them under for the past 30 years.
Once the war in Iraq started, so many of the Vietnam vets I interviewed told me to keep an eye out for the Iraq Vets coming home. They told me that not enough had changed in the last 30 years in this country to keep another generation of veterans from ending up homeless as well. They were right.
The film tells the story of Herold Noel, an Iraq War veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and living in his car in Brooklyn, railing against a system that has failed him and struggling to survive after returning from the war.
He's not alone. The first article about homeless Iraq War vets appeared in the Boston Globe, just a year after the war in Iraq had started. There are now over 500 homeless Iraq War vets across the country and we MUST do something to stop history from repeating itself.